Monday, September 07, 2015

Television blues

When we first arrived here we had no television to watch, just the videos we had brought with us from England.

Many of our British neighbours opted to try and receive British TV either via a huge satellite dish or by the microwave rebroadcast system from the coast. Instead, Pam and I opted to go with Digital +, the Spanish equivalent of Sky. There were a number of channels that we could change the language for and so we had an adequate amount of TV we could watch.

When Digital + introduced high definition channels we bought one of their iPlus boxes which would decode the HD programmes and at the same time would allow us to record content to an internal hard drive. That worked well for awhile until Canal +, as the company was then called, changed satellites. We had the dish realigned and that restored our HD channels.

By this time though we were having problems with the digibox which would crash each time you changed it to a HD channel. I had to reset the box several times to get it to work properly. That also meant that we could not rely upon the box recording a HD channel whilst we were away - sometimes it would work but often not at all.

I emailed Canal + and asked them for a replacement box. In reply they said we had bought the decoder and so they could only repair it - free of charge. Several weeks later our original digibox was returned and was working fine.

That did not last though, within less than a year the problem of crashing returned. I put up with it for awhile until it came to the point where the damn thing would not work at all. Time to contact them again. However, by this time Canal+ had been taken over by Movistar and the email address I had used was no longer valid. I went to their site and found the only way, other than trying to phone them, was to contact the company via their Facebook page which I did.

About a week later I got a reply to say that the matter had been handed over to their technical department who would call me. Well that has not happened.

As a stop gap measure I bought a cheap box from Carrefour to see what free channels we could watch. It turns out that the satellites our dish is pointed to carry over 1,000 channels. As I went through the list though, only a handful of news channels were  in English, the rest were either locked or were only available in German.

I'd already investigated ways to get British TV including having a fake IP address to allow us to get catch up TV. The solution we opted for was to subscribe to BBC iPlayer Global which was excellent. There was plenty of content including old programmes and series that we thoroughly enjoyed. Via an Apple TV box, we were able to stream the programmes to our TV from an iPad - brilliant. Sadly though, the BBC has now discontinued the service and so our Apple TV box now sits unused.

During my research I also came across several companies offering IPTV (television over the internet) and one in particular that use a service where the programmes are streamed from servers in Malaga. One of their technicians is coming on Wednesday to install the necessary set top box which hopefully will get us a wide range of TV programmes.

In the meantime, I will continue to badger Movistar because we are paying a monthly fee for something that we are not getting.

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