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Television and all things Telly related

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Television and all things Telly related

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Should you bring your UK TV to America

Short answer, no. Long answer, probably not.

For decades, US and UK television signals have been different. The US used a standard called NTSC, and the UK used a standard called PAL. Add to this the problem with voltage and power cords. And then add to that the problem of different connects (the US uses coaxial cable or RCA jacks, and the UK uses SCART). A US TV in the UK was worthless, and a UK TV in the USA was a brick.

Now, with the release of HDTV and new LCD flat panel monitors, we are coming to a point where differences are not as pronounced. Many LCD monitors have the capability to output HDTV, PAL and NTSC, and some are even 110v-220v capable. Bringing one of these over is simply a matter of plugging in some different cords, sometimes.

If you have a really nice TV capable of a) NTSC/PAL/HDTV playback and b) with 110/220v power supply and c) proper connection plugs for the US and d) have insurance for the shipping and e) have read the manual to make sure that it would work in the US over such and such controllers and f) don't care about the fact your UK tv will not have closed caption support for the US standard,

then you can consider bringing it over.

Anything else it is far better to sell and buy a new one when you arrive here (TV's are cheaper here).

The majority of people follow this advice and sell their TV in the UK and purchase a similar if not better model in the US for less. You can search on websites like http://www.bestbuy.com to get a general idea of TV prices and maybe even a comparable model. Many have been able to buy better TVs in the US with the money they made selling their 1 or 2 year old TV on ebay in the UK.

What options are there to watch UK television, direct from the UK, in America

On your television, basically, nothing.

Due to the curve of the Earth, most of the satellites beaming signals to Europe are not visible to US-based ground stations. Signals from the UK have to be double-bounced or aimed specifically at a few satellites that do broadcast to the US. The cost is quite high. And on top of that their are 'rights issues' where the broadcasting rights for some show you see on BBC-1 is 'UK /EU only' and then they sell the rights to repeats to an American TV station (the same works in reverse as well, which is why you only see some US shows on certain UK stations).

There are a few channels that will have UK content on them, primarily sports. FoxSoccerChannel (aka Sky) will carry Sky Sports News and live footie. Setanta NA will have EPL, Championship and Rugby coverage (See the other WIKI article on UK Sports in the US for more). GoalTV has Arsenal and Liverpool TV shows. BBC World is available in some US areas, and then there is BBCAmerica which occasionally has some live programming. During elections, C-SPAN will often pick up the live BBC feed so you can see the election results live from London.

But that's about it for live content.

What about over the Internet?

More and more expats are using the Internet to watch TV programming from back home. There are a limited number of options for 'streaming' and then there is a thing called the 'Slingbox' that you'll often hear about.

As for streaming, the first and most annoying problem is that you are not in the UK, and your IP address of your computer is going to show up as not being in the UK. As such things like the BBC iPlayer and ITV's streams will be 'blocked' due to your geographic location.

However, there are ways around this. A VPN (virtual private network) can be set up in the UK where you connect to that computer in the UK and from there they connect to the content. There are several services that offer this for a fee of a few pounds a month. A proxy server is another method and some of them are free, however they do have some security risk associated with them.

The free options include:

Once done, what many people find useful is to take a small computer and attach it to their television. Using the DVI port or a DVI to HDMI convertor, or even a red-white-yellow component connection jack (if your PC has that output) people have been able to hook up their televisions to computers and turn their televisions into monitors.

You should look into programs live Livestation as another method of getting live content from around the world on your PC or PC/TV combo.

The other option is the Slingbox. Basically you hook this device up to your UK television box & UK internet connection and then you can access it from a computer anywhere in the world. Yes, it does basically require someone in the UK to 'host' the device (aka uncle, aunt, parents, etc) but it does offer some ability to watch LIVE UK television here in the US.

NOTE: A general observation from many expats is 'why live'? With the 5-8 hour time difference, you really are going to find that the most interesting programming from the UK is coming on in the middle of the day here in the USA. It's just not convenient to watch live TV from the UK while living in the US, which is why many people opt for recorded options.

Torrent files are ways to 'download' TV programming from around the world (quasi-legally). You get a bittorrent program (like Vuze) and then search for available torrents on a number of torrent sites to start your download. Warning: when you are downloading from someone else, other people are downloading from you (which gets to be the grey area of the law). You can find torrents of nearly all major UK programs within 24 hours of them airing in the UK.

Cable or Satellite

Very few people in America still get their television 'over the air'. Most have cable or satellite service which brings in anywhere between 20-500 channels. Satellite is generally available IF you have a view of the Southern sky from your house. note: there is a US federal law that ALLOWS you to put on a Dish on your roof regardless of any Home Owners Associations rules or local regulations. Dish and DirectTV are the two main satellite companies, and cable companies are basically monopolies depending on where you live (Comcast, Time Warner, etc). Satellites suffer from rain, when the signal can get degraded, but are a cheaper option (in most places) than the local cable company.

Both satellites and cable will offer 'packages'. A bare minimum package is just the local broadcasters in your area (boring). You then can upgrade to a few 'basic' cable channels like CNN and ESPN sports. Then you start to get the next level which might bring in BBC America and all the Discovery channels. Then you upgrade to the premium channels which includes HBO and Showtime and all the movie channels. Finally with some systems (satellites) you can add 'ethnic' packages which will be China TV channels or German TV channels.

What about sports?

See the other article in the WIKI about UK sports in the US.

What sort of UK programming can I get in America

Not alot. BBC America has some programming, if you love Cash in the Attic or You are what you Eat. But for cutting edge 'new' programming BBC America really has missed the boat. You get maybe a few hours each week of programming you might have seen back in the UK in primetime, but it's often weeks or months AFTER it aired in the UK.

PBS, the American 'public broadcasting service' is a national network with 100s of local affiliates. Nearly every community in America has one if not more PBS stations. PBS will often show BBC World Service news, along with some programs like 'Masterpiece Theater' or 'Masterpiece Mysteries' which often have content like Foyles War, Inspector Morse or other UK programming. Many PBS stations reserve Saturday nights for sci-fi, so you can catch Red Dwarf or Doctor Who on occasion.

Doctor Who is also shown on the Sci-fi channel, a cable network available in most areas.

Here is a list:

PBS Sprout (Kids): Thomas the Train Fireman Sam The Hoobs Teletubbies

PBS: EastEnders Masterpiece Mystery (Inspector Morse, Foyles War, etc) Red Dwarf Doctor Who Fawlty Towers

A&E Spooks (MI-5)

SciFi Battlestar Galactica Dr. Who

BBC America (big list)