... to my website. It's been running since December 2001 and in that time has had well over a million visits. So if you've only just found me, I hope you'll find the information useful (if not, do please get in touch and say why!). If you've been here before and are returning, welcome back - always glad to greet old friends!
I am occasionally recognised on campsites. It sometimes takes the form of the rather enigmatic question "Aren't you the guy off that website?". And a few years ago on a campsite in France, someone arrived at Reception brandishing a printout from this website and told the owner he'd got their site from it. Did she know me? Yes, she said, he's next door in the laundry room!
Anyway, to business. Some people use their caravan to get away from the television; others can't live without it. Love it or loathe it however, one fact remains - cross the English Channel and it's useless. No more Eastenders, no more Coronation Street, not even any news or weather reports. Even in the UK there are plenty of caravan sites in areas where it is difficult to get a decent signal through an aerial, so what can one do about it? Get satellite, that's what! You can get all the main UK channels (including your own local BBC and ITV variations) with a crystal-sharp picture and CD-quality sound. Unfortunately many people are put off because they think it will be too expensive or too difficult to set up. (I also suspect there are people who think a satellite dish is too tasteless to have on a caravan roof but I'll bet most of them have one of those flying saucer aerial things on theirs!)
This website sets out to dispel some of the mystique surrounding satellite broadcasting (including the widely-held but mistaken belief that Sky runs the whole system) and will, I hope, show that it isn't difficult to make use of it on the move.
There is still some confusion about the cost of satellite TV. A lot of people are discouraged because they think they'll be tied to a monthly subscription. Not so - there are many free channels for which no subscription is required, and which only need a dish and receiver to get them. You simply have to buy the equipment, just as you had to buy a television and an aerial in the first place. Once you have the equipment there are no further ongoing costs (unless you want the extra pay channels provided by Sky). In addition to the main terrestrial channels, you'll also get all of the BBC's and ITV's digital channels including BBC Three and Four, and ITV2, 3 and 4, (and not forgetting CBeebies for the little ones!) which are included in your licence fee. You'll also get the BBC's national radio stations. You'll also get Channel 4's digital variants, E4, More4, 4seven and Film4, together with Channel 5's - 5 USA (formerly called Five USA) and 5* (formerly Fiver which allowed me to use the joke about its programming budget).
There are several options to choose from when it comes to buying satellite equipment. You can opt for Sky (with or without a monthly subscription ) or freesat which is the alternative satellite service sponsored by the BBC and ITV.
I should also mention that it is and always has been possible to buy generic non-Sky free-to-air receivers. They're becoming more widely available as well, with even the likes of B&Q stocking them. However I personally have no experience of using any of them and therefore can't offer any advice on them. I have included a brief page on the free-to-air options available but apart from that, this website will continue for the moment to concentrate on Sky and freesat. Having said that, if anyone wants to fill in that gap in this website's knowledge base, I'd be delighted to hear from you.
Paradoxically the launch of freesat in 2008 made the choice more complex, with many people writing to me to ask whether they need a new dish for example. So I've added a new page which will help to put the whole caboodle into perspective.
Click here to go to it.
A satellite receiver can be any of the following 3 types and will connect to the TV via a scart lead, (or better still an HDMI cable if both the receiver and the TV are HD-enabled).
Click one of these links for further information.