Television reception

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Cable, terrestrial, satellite etc.


Bringing a less-than-multi-standard-PAL TV to Switzerland

It will work - but with some limitations.

Those limitations:

  • You cannot really just connect and watch Swiss TV. Standards mean that you'll not get the signal properly
  • If you buy a VCR or (in the 21st century) a DVD Recorder, you CAN connect this to your TV using the SCART cable and it will work - the caveat being that you change channels on the recorder not the telly. Remember to get a stereo one for the dual-channel sound programmes
  • It'll work perfectly with a Sky or satellite box or Digital Cable STB

Dual Channel Shows

After you log in you can click on Profisuche on the bottom left and then move to the right hand side and scroll down a little and click on the symbol for dual language (2 open circles side by side)and then press search in the bottom right corner and everything that will be shown in 2 languages will appear.

If you click on the show itself, it will indicate the real name of the show on the bottom in a gray box.

The following web site lists dual channel sound (Zweikanalton) broadcasts in English on the German, French and Italian language Swiss national networks:

Watching American TV in Switzerland

You can watch some American shows on Swiss TV using the dual-language option on your TV. Other options include buying the DVDs as they come out, or downloading episodes as they become available on file-sharing services such as Bittorrent. If you want to watch TV as it airs in the States, one option is to use Slingbox, which, when coupled with TiVo, cable, and a high-speed internet connection in the States, will stream your TV programs of choice to your computer here in Switzerland. TiVo isn't required, but it is really very useful, as you can record the programs and watch them at your leisure, instead of having to watch them at the time that they air. Note that Slingbox only allows one computer to view its stream at any given point, so it isn't something several people can use simultaneously.

British Telly. You know you want it.

There are a bunch of useful links towards the bottom – contributions are welcome to that.


  • BBC and ITV channels are Free-To-Air now - this means that any old satellite box will allow you to get these channels. From el cheapo FTA system in InterDiscount for 139,- (for box and dish) to the more exotic and expensive can get these channels.
  • Sky have recently released a new free-to-air product called FreeSat. You get 120 UK digital TV channels and 80 digital radio channels for a one-off-fee for the dish and receiver - no subscription!

Danish/Norwegian television.

Yes, you can have it. Not entirely straight forward, but not overly difficult either.

Both are broadcast over the Thor satellite, and you'll need a SMART-card from DR (Danmarks Radio), respectively NRK (Norsk Rikskringkasting) in order to decrypt the encrypted broadcast signals.


You will need an unobstructed view SOUTH.
Imagine looking towards the Alps (assuming you can see through your Concrete Jungle)….it’s that way. It [the signal] does not bounce off the Uetliberg or anything else – you must have an unblocked view of the southern skies or it won’t work.

You’ll also likely need to put the dish on a balcony – most landlords will not allow a dish to be bolted on the outside of the building (as this does truly damage the cladding) or on the outside of the balcony structure. It’s down to you to check – you might be lucky.

Pre-Installation Disclaimer:

This guide is simply a rule-of-thumb.

No responsibility will be accepted for injury (should you want to Spiderman your installation) or damage to kit (because you will read the manual before doing anything, won’t you?) and do recommend that you seek assistance should you not feel comfortable performing a “Self-Install”.


Call the typical Expat seeking to install a satellite dish what you want (tight-arse, adventurous) – many have installed their own dish.
Your Mileage May Vary – I know the first time I lined Sky Digital up, it was a nightmare. Sky Analogue could be done by Stevie Wonder [no offence meant, Big Guy!], to be honest – but the Digital beam is much tighter and less-forgiving.

If you’re going to do it on your own, I do recommend a proper balcony stand for the dish. I bought mine from Radio Hess for around 100 francs.
Also consider getting a compass – but do take into account that the metal substructure on a balcony can cause issues!

The single and most important thing to remember is that you should take your time. I can recant my first installation assisted by FIVE people all calling out “Oh yes, signal’s up!” and other such helpful remarks.

I can tell you that two hours on a cold November night on your balcony is a long time and that, at 7am next morning, it took me FOUR minutes to do on my own.


Right, let’s get to specifics. You seek 28 degrees east – that’s east of south.

South on the compass is the opposite direction to North – the compass needle will point North (with a nice colour to help you recognise it). So, if you stand staring down at the compass, get the pretty colour pointing towards you (clue: you’ll have to move) and ensure North is pointing at ZERO.

Good – you’re now facing due (magnetic, actually) South. That’s 180 on the the maths. 180–28=152. Correct? 152 on your compass is ahead and left – remember that direction! That’s the way your dish should point.

Now I am assuming you do have a proper stand because it does help. You’ve assembled the mounting for the dish and put the LNB (which is where the signal is “sent” after reflecting off the pretty dish) on the arm.
Before you put it on the stand, look at the mounting – on one side it has numbers which correspond to elevation – you seek something around 32 degrees (in Zurich). Tighten the mount at this elevation with your thumbs – you don’t want to do it bionically – yet – as you might have to carefully adjust it.

If you’ve remembered the direction and got the elevation right, you might be lucky soon – put the dish on the stand and tighten the fittings (but not too much). Now you have the cable to connect to the LNB and to your receiver (WITH THE POWER OFF). I’ll assume you’ve connected the receiver to the TV and I frankly don’t care how you cable your setup (but there are some hints later to avoid drilling holes) – at this point you can power up the receiver and hopefully you have a picture (you might have to READ THE MANUAL and TELL THE RECEIVER which bird it is pointing at – unless it’s a DUMB SKY DIGIBOX).

If the receiver has a signal meter (most do, again – READ THE MANUAL) then get that to display on the screen. This will help tune (or if you’re lucky, fine-tune) the dish to get the best reception. SMALL ADJUSTMENTS (and I do mean SMALL ADJUSTMENTS) are the key to getting the reception spot-on. Take your time, don’t hesitate to re-check the compass and re-check the elevation.

If you’re having problems at this point, I am not going to reinvent the wheel – see the information section below for the Dave Sullivan link. I do believe it’s worth looking at anyway… what’re you waiting for?

The "WHAT ABOUT SKY" Section:

Sky...lovely. These instructions do apply for Sky boxes too, of course. But what about the people who want a Sky subscription?

Well...there are options out there. For Expat Brits, perhaps the simplest solution is to get a subscription at home and then bring it out with you, card and box paired together and subscription active.

For others, there are many companies offering “services” and these vary in price – consider that you’ll have to pay the cost of the monthly Sky subscription PLUS a handling fee every year. Links are in the table below.

If you have a Free-To-View card, you will get regionalised BBC and ITV at 101 and 103 on your Digibox and you will also be able to see Channel4 and five (and probably Sky Three as well)

What works?

Sky works. Sky+ works. If you buy the box full-price, you don’t need a phone connection.

If you're smart enough, you could get a VoIP adaptor and a UK number and connect the box to the phoneline but this is UNTESTED as yet. You go first, I dare you!

What doesn’t work?

Sky Multiroom doesn’t work. Phone line...same phone line for all boxes on the contract…..see the problem here? NB: If you have the guts to try the VoIP route, you might be able to have two boxes. This again is untested and do bear in mind that they have to dial from the same number

Phoning Sky. Ill-advised but some have suppressed their own number (#31# before the desired number does this, I believe).

Sky MiniDish doesn’t work. Too small – you may believe it works (especially Zone 2 dishes) but wait until there’s a cloud in the sky and a drop of rain). You want something 80cm+. West-siders will have more joy with zone 2 dishes (Basel) but Zurich will need more

UK Radio

Don't forget that along with TV you can also receive a host of Radio stations from the UK from the world's best radio station, BBC Radio 4, to the world's most listened to station, BBC Radio 2 (no accounting for taste, World) - all in excellent stereo sound quality. Here's a list of radio stations (scroll down the page after TV).

Links and Other Sources of Information:

What? Where? Eh? Any recommendations?

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