posted by in Germany forum
Hi Gabriela, I found this info:
Satellite television - satellite provides the greatest number of English-language television channels - literally hundreds. Most satellite dish owners in Germany choose to tune into the Astra 2 satellite. This provides the full range of British channels including all the BBC, ITV, and SKY channels. A 45 to 90cm diameter dish will be able to receive most channels - exact size is dependent on where abouts in Germany you are located. The disadvantage of satellite over cable is that a dish is a hassle to install. It also requires a south-facing balcony or roof-space. Even with such a south-facing space your landlord may not approve of a dish installation. Also the initial set-up costs can be higher than cable, i.e. a few hundred Euro. Having said all that, if you're an avid watcher of British TV then a satellite dish is definitely for you and it won't break the bank.
Cable television - the number of English-language television channels on cable is currently limited to around 10 to 20 dependent on the region of Germany (as of April 2006). This channels usually include Sky News, BBC Prime, NASN (North American Sports Network), and about ten others. Although the range of channels is smaller than via satellite, the advantage is that installation is easier - you simply have to plug the receiver box into your wall socket. The start-up costs are also lower - a digital receiver and initial subscription are less than satellite dish. Also, a cable TV connection usually comes with integrated high-speed internet which is an economic alternative to DSL internet via Deutsche Telekom.
posted by in Germany forum
You won't find much, if any, television in English without cable or satellite reception, though some radio in English may be available terrestrially, especially at night. Things get a little better if you want to pay for cable tv service, better still if you invest in satellite reception, and vastly better if you acquire decoders and/or a digital receiver. The broadcast standard in Germany is "PAL" (B/G), which isn't compatible with the North American "NTSC system". You should buy either a PAL TV, multi-system TV or consider buying a PAL/NTSC converter.
The television stations that can be received without cable or satellite are the ARD, ZDF, the Secondary Programs and, in some areas, RTL, all of which broadcast entirely in German. (These are also receivable by cable and satellite, usually with vastly better reception.) If you have invested in a digital-analog receiver, the channel selection you can get will vary greatly depending on where you live. Retailers will usually provide you with a local channel line-up. You can expect to get anywhere from 5-25 channels exclusively in the German language. Digital terrestrial receivers and antennas can be purchased for anywhere between 40,EUR and 100 +EUR at any large, local area electronic retailer. Hardware performance will vary as much as the strength of the digital terrestrial signal. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to receive much, if anything at all. Be sure to talk extensively with your retail sales persons and be sure that you express clearly what area you live in.
There are about 40 channels on the cable (again, depending on where you're located). Most of them broadcast in German, but four of them are in English: CNN, NBC Super Channel, MTV and BBC World. Also on cable (as well as satellite) is Premiere World. It is digital pay TV and broadcasts in German, but it has a large number of channels, offering everything from sports and films, to children's programming and erotic shows. In the past few years, German cable companies have begun offering English Language Packages that include up to 14 English language broadcasts. You can expect to pay anywhere from about 15,00 to 27,00 EUR monthly for these special language packages. Receivers usually run from 100,00 to 350,00 EUR and you can sometimes get them for free if you sign a 1 or 2 year minimum contract. It seems that most German cable providers do not have English language web portals and since most of the industry is very centralized, you probably will not find a local German cable TV agency to assist you.
Currently the most popular method to receive a large number of high-quality, English-language programs is to have a satellite dish installed. It is relatively inexpensive to buy the dish, LNB and receiver and there are a lot of package deals available in the German retail outlets. But before you make your satellite hardware purchase, remember that you will probably only be able to use this equipment for free-to-air (FTA) channels and German pay TV, Premier.
You may also want to consider having a professional installer mount and align your satellite dish as precision work is required and without the right tools and experience, you could well spend more time and effort getting nowhere opposed to spending a little bit on having it done properly. Make sure you have your landlord's permission to put up a dish, or adjust one that might already be installed and which could be utilized for what you want to achieve.
You will be faced with a large choice of receivers. The cheapest ones are the analog receivers. Somewhat more expensive are digital receivers. Most broadcast companies have already switched to the newer digital technology, therefore most of the receivers you will find will be digital rather than the oudated analog receivers. Prices start around €50 for inexpensive standard FTA units and go well beyond €600.00 with integral PVR (hard-drives) and 'High Definition' capability.
If you buy the standard digital receiver that receives the standard "free to air" broadcasts you'll be able to pick up several English language channels, depending on which satellite your dish is pointed to. That's the good news. The bad news is that the 40 or so channels you can pick up are pretty much limited to news, music, travel shops, some sports and shopping.
Premium English Language Satellite TV
If you want to get more English language channels then you will have to get a receiver and service that will allow you to pick up "encoded" signals. There are different types of "decoders" and decoding cards that will enable you to receive a variety of services. Europe's best pay TV is Sky TV from the UK. Offering over 150 tv and radio channels, all in English with the latest series and shows from the US, it truly lets the expatriate "feel at home". Twelve Discovery Channels, National Geographic FOX News, Bloomberg, Disney, ABC1, Hallmark, Sci-Fi, FX, Cartoon Network, MTV, VH1, Zone Reality, BBC and ITV and many more are available.
Several specialized magazines are available that describe in detail the offerings on different satellites and information on decoders. They also carry advertisements from different companies that offer the services.
The U.S. military station AFN also has a terrestrial television program, but you must live quite close to an American base in order to "eavesdrop." The signals are weak, the transmitters are usually directional and an NTSC television set is needed.