Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who is telling the truth

Telmicro are promising customers that they will be back on air by the end of September. Whether that is true and quite what they will be broadcasting remains to be seen.

If their package consists solely of freeview programmes then it will be hard for them to justify charging a monthly subscription. In any case the situation is more complicated than Telmicro are suggesting.

It seems that no company based in Spain has a licence to show the BBCs public service channels. Companies that do this are breaking copyright laws. European law allows channels that are broadcast in an EEA (European Economic Area) country to be licensed for cable redistribution in another EEA country. The only countries that currently have licences for cable redistribution of BBC programmes are the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands. That is not to say that a Spanish company couldn't apply for a license but it would be up to the BBC to decide whether to grant it. I'd guess the application process would take longer than a month to complete.

BBC World News is freely distributed in Spain e.g. as part of the Digital+ package. BBC Prime, on the other hand, is licensed to individuals who buy a subscription to the channels and receive a smart card for their satellite box. However, BBC Prime doesn't provide live coverage or highlights of sporting events so would not satisfy those who are missing Sky sports coverage.

Re-broadcasting Sky is obviously illegal and in breach of copyright. In fact BskyB makes it clear that it is illegal to receive its programmes in Spain by any means. Reception of their programmes is only authorised in the UK and Ireland.

Those who pay for a Sky viewing card via a UK address are therefore breaking the law and risk having their cards deactivated. Companies that offer Sky cards here in Spain often register up to 3,000 subscribers to one UK address. Sky have got wise to this and will cut off cards where there are more than five registered to one address. If you are only viewing the freeview channels via your Sky box i.e. without a viewing card then you stand a better chance of keeping your reception.

You can get the free-to-view programmes via a satellite dish and a freeview box but most of them will be in Spanish (or German) with the odd programme which can be switched over to English.

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