TV in the Channel Islands

I’ve been thinking of giving TV another shot, especially if I can get a lot of free channels and PVR functionality with no subscription. I’ve been looking about at the current state of television out here:

Analogue terrestrial (normal TV, UHF)

Free but a mere four channels and no apparent plans to give us even channel Five.

Digital terrestrial (Freeview, DVB-T)

Freeview as it is branded in the UK promises some 30+ channels over your existing TV aerial for just the price of a receiver box or even PC card like the Nova-T with built-in PVR functionality. You even get E4, UKTV, Sky Travel and Sky Sports News which are not available for free elsewhere.

Not yet available in the Channel Islands because the frequencies conflict with ones used by the French. This will have to be sorted out by the 2012 analogue cut-off but there seems to be little progress thus far.


Cable TV is available in selected parts of Jersey but not in Guernsey and starts at £28.50 a month.

Satellite (DVB-S)

This can get complex, but basically there are three types of channel on satellite

Free to Air (FTA)

An impressive number of channels are entirely free and have no encryption so can be picked up by any satellite box or even a PC card such as the Nova-S+. There are a LOT of channels available but not yet ITV, ITV2, Channel 4 or Five.

ITV plans to follow the BBC onto the Astra 2D UK-focused satellite which will mean they too can drop the pesky encryption that they needed to prevent their content being watched outside the UK. Hopefully Channel 4 will follow soon.

These channels are free but encrypted with Sky’s own technology.

Sky will sell you the complete package of hardware and card for £150 or alternatively you can buy just the card for £20 if you have an old Sky Digibox kicking round.

The real problem here however is because they refuse to license their encryption technology to anyone else you can not use a third-party box or PVR, even Sky+ requires a subscription.

Subscription/pay (Sky etc.)

Sky obviously will be happy to take your money for their somewhat expensive packages but it is a 12-month commitment and you can expect regular annoying phone calls and mail-shots if you ever cancel.

Again the problem here is because they won’t license their encryption you are stuck with the Sky box and while Sky+ is a nice system they expect a whopping £10 a month to use it unless you subscribe to a movie or sports package.

I’m going with the Nova-S+ if I can get hold of one, that will be sitting inside my Shuttle box that sits quietly in my lounge acting as my server :)


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