The Journey -
I've just had a query about getting Sky satellite TV outside the UK.
First of all, it must be understood that by the terms of Sky's licence to broadcast, it is illegal to receive Sky's UK broadcasts outside of the UK. Furthermore, Sky will only supply access to folk who have a UK TV BBC licence. So, if you want to get Sky overseas, you have to do some of the business through a friend in the UK.
There are many internet sites offering help and advice in this area, so these notes will be by no means exhaustive.
What you need is:
We'll go through these one at a time.
I assume that you already have a TV.
THE SKY DIGI-BOX
If you are already in France, a Sky digi-box can be bought from one of several traders who advertise in publications aimed at UK ex-pats. One of these is John Sidwell who, last I heard, was at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 05 55 78 72 98, address Mouriol, Milhaguet, 87440 Marval, France. Helpful hints are on his website, and I can attest to his excellent after sales service - he replaced my box when it failed.
THE SATELLITE DISH AND LNB
I still have a circular dish some 60 cm in diameter. This has worked well, but I fancy one the smaller, non-circular, mesh dishes (to reduce windage on the boat).
A SATELLITE FINDER
(a.k.a. A satellite meter). You need one of these on a boat, as you will be setting up the dish to point at the satellite each time you moor up. In a house, you will probably get an 'expert' in to do the setting up. In this case, the main problem will be to get the engineer to lock onto the Sky satellite, and not some grizzly French one! Meters vary in price from £20 to £150 +++. The cheapest ones work just fine. They can be bought in some supermarkets, some diy stores and in many 'caravan' equipment shops.
A VIEWING CARD
The above system will pick up some programmes - I'm not sure which, but the web-sites will tell you.
To get more programmes you need a viewing card, and Sky will only supply these to addresses in the UK with a valid BBC TV licence. So you may need a friend to apply for one for their good-selves, but which they will kindly send on to you. If they already have a viewing card, they can still ask for another one (ostensibly for another TV in (say) their bedroom). Payments to Sky will, of course, have to support this charade.
Most of us make do with a 'Free' viewing card, so called because it used to be free. Sky now make a one off charge of £20 or more. This gets you hundreds of radio channels, including all the BBC ones, and loads of shopping channels. There are quite a few soft-core porn sites. Nearly the full range of BBC and ITV TV sites is available. Various movie sites are included - I'm not getting More 4, and I'm not sure whether I should or not.
For the true addict, the normal Sky viewing card range of packages is available.
This is rarely a problem once you have it a few times.
The satellite finder needs to be 'in line' with the co-axial cable to the LNB, and in such a position as you can see the finder whilst you twiddle with the dish. However, the finder itself seems to absorb some of the signal, so once the dish position has been determined, the finder needs to be removed. It is vital that when inserting and removing the finder from the co-axial cable, that no 'shorts' are made. A short will burn out one of the components in the Sky box wholly disabling it.
It also helps if the setter-up can see the TV screen, though the screen will often lie to you - it sometimes needs switching off and on again before it will reveal the truth. Relying on a partner to report what they see on screen, inevitably leads to excessive shouting, arguments, tears and the ultimate dissolution of the partnership.
I won't go through the process here - it is outlined on several websites. However, annoyingly, many of them give the compass position of the Sky satellite as 'so many degrees East of South', rather than the 'normal' notation of degrees clockwise from North. The dish also needs to be elevated from the horizontal. Watch THE Steffi Riefenstall (how on earth is her name spelt?) film, and observe Hitler saluting. His arm is at the correct angle to be pointing at the Sky satellite.
Finally, if you are the sort of person who wants to watch satellite TV other than Sky, then be warned that although the Sky box can be so used, the setting up process to do this is somewhat intricate.