Watch French Channels in the UK

French TV via Satellite

Updated 2022 Feb 

France broadcasts by satellite on the Hotbird, Astra 1, and Eutelsat 5w satellites, so in most cases, it is easy to find at least one which is receivable, anywhere in England, Wales, or Scotland. 

Different dish sizes will be needed, especially with Fransat, as the latest satellite 2020, has a problem

Since Nov 2016 all the main French channels have been encrypted. There are no longer many free channels, with the exception of a few on Eutelsat 9a. So the only real options are to purchase one of the French receivers with a card. However TNT and Fransat are not subscription-based, so after the initial purchase of dish and receiver, there is no ongoing cost (** see Costs below )

Contents

    Receiving The Main French Channels

     France has had its main channels TF1, France 2 to 5, M6, and others available by TNT, Fransat, Canal Plus, and BIS for quite a few years now. 

    These 4 options can be arranged in the UK.  The channels shown below are present on all the 3 main services TNT, Fransat, and BIS. TNT and Fransat are VERY similar, only the regional channels are different.

    Canal plus, the subscription service, also offers these channels, along with documentaries, sports, and films, but unless you have a French bank account and address, it would be almost impossible to arrange a Canal+ account. These have to be installed with a Canal+ official box  ( le Cube) and card, which are rented, not purchased.

    Things are changing though, Czech, Dutch, and Spanish main channels which once were similarly difficult to obtain can now be purchased with any card or bank account.

    Canal+  had a very bad 2018 losing the rights to broadcast French football, it dropped the Motorsport channel in August and its IPTV service Canalplay lost customers to Netflix.

    CanalSat which has been available for many years, as an add-on to the standard TNT box and card, has been dropped. Canal+ still carries all the Canalsat channels though.

    Costs

    Fransat used to have a one-time payment for their card but now both TNT and Fransat operate the same policy of a 4-year card. After 4 years you will have to renew the card. 

    Renewal of the 4-year cards is a reasonable cost. If you live in France, just register online with TNT or Fransat and the card is €15. For us in the UK it is currently around £50 + postage for my own customers. After Brexit, the postage varies wildly. 

    Beware UK sellers making a killing on the sale of TNT cards! Always compare prices. £50 for all my previous customers, but some online sellers are charging £80 plus.

    BIS has several packages, with 12-month cards costing between £100 and £250 per year approx. Bis can also be arranged with BeIN sport ( France ) subscription added.

    Each of the 3 main services are broadcast from a different satellite:

    • Fransat – Eutelsat 5w ( formerly Atlantic bird 3 ) 
    • TNT , Canalplus  &  Canalsat – Astra 1 
    • BIS – Hotbird & Eutelsat 5w

    This can be an advantage in difficult circumstances if for example one satellite is blocked by trees or a tall building.

    If you are considering French plus another service perhaps French+German or French+ UK Freesat, I can supply the correct fully compatible receiver, cam and card, for this. The cams do work, but ONLY in full spec ci+ boxes.  Recent changes on the Fransat platform have added 2 Basque channels and 3 Berber channels.

    Subtitles - Sous Titres

    All the 3 French services provide sub-titles ( in French ), they can be switched on and off from the main menu.

    Recordings made from the box with an HDD will have the subtitles available and can be selected/deselected, during playback. 

    The popular TV5monde Europe, on the Hotbird satellite does carry English subtitles on most broadcasts.

    EPG - Electronic Programme Guide

    On TNT and Fransat boxes a simple now and next Electronic Programme Guide is available. The full 7 day EPG is not possible except on the Canal Plus system.  In this respect France lags way behind UK, German and Italian channels, which all offer a 7 day guide, from which you can easily set recordings

    France - TNT

    What receiver will I get with this package? 

    A TNT receiver, with a card. Card is valid for 4 years.

    Notes: Choose Fransat if you want the RMC sports addon. Choose TNT if you also want the German and Spanish free channels.

    I recommend the 65cm Single lnb coated steel Technomate dish with tm1 or similar good quality lnb, having low noise and high gain characteristics. This combination gives great results in all UK areas.

    France - Fransat

    What receiver will I get with this package? 

    A Fransat receiver, with a card. Note: Choose Fransat if you want the RMC sports addon

    I want UHD 4k What receiver will I get with this package? 

    TF1 is the first in France to have an Ultra High Definition Channel, if you have a 4k TV perfect ! It will give an excellent picture on an HD tv as well

    For the Full story on TF1 UHD see our French blog frenchchannels.

    In London – up to Manchester a Single lnb, 80cm coated steel dish from Triax or Technomate,  with tm1 or similar good lnb, should be ok. 

    Further  North, the signal from the 2020 satellite Eutelsat 5wb deteriorates (its solar panels never achieved full power) so it may be necessary to increase size to 90cm or 1m.

    TNT and Fransat Channels have  the same Core main channels.

    Note: the Fransat card does now expire, changed around 2016, so Fransat is exactly the same cost as TNT , a new card is required every 4 years, fortunately not a huge cost.

    Fransat includes the  regional Vosges , the 3 Berber (Morocco) channels. The Eitb Basque channels are only available on application with Basque address 

    Attention Sports Fans!

    RMC sports HD channel 1 &2 are now available on any Fransat card.

    • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
    • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
    • EUROPA LEAGUE
    • EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
    • LIGUE 1 UBER EATS
    • FORMULA ONE
    • MERCATO
    • AFTER FOOT
    • STORY –  RMC SPORT
    • MMA

    Subscriptions – without commitment

    You can subscribe for 1,3 or 12 months

    Watch on TV or Mobile / laptop with app

     See RMC Sports page

    BIS - France

    What receiver will I get with the BIS packages?  The reliable and versatile Technisat single tuner receiver with BIS ( viacess secure ) cam ensures reliable updates – since 2016 many older receivers with embedded viacess firmware fail to update the card properly

    The Bis signal on Hotbird is ok using a Single lnb, 65cm coated steel dish from Triax or Technomate

    If using Eutelsat for BIS, see dish sizes above ( Fransat )

    France Free to Air

    Amiko model MIRA X

    What receiver will I get with this package?  The reliable and versatile Amiko MIRA X, the latest in the HD mini series from Amiko.

    For these channels I recommend the 80cm dish for 3 satellites

    Not only the free French but also German, Hungarian, Polish, Italian and Arabic channels available

    Motorised and Multi-Satellite Reception

    If you want to combine France with channels from other satellites you can choose a motorised dish or a multi satellite dish 

    A 1metre dish with a diseqc motor can receive European, African and Asian satellites from 30 ° west to 32  or even 56° east, in most UK locations.

    read – Motor Dish Page

    A standard fixed position parabolic dish can be fitted with 2,3 or more LNBs for multi-satellite reception, eg France, Germany, Italy & Spain

    read – All Europe dish

    A Special fixed position toroidal dish can be fitted with 2,3 or more LNBs for wide angle multi-satellite reception

    read – All About Toroidal dishes

    Technisat S6

    What receiver will I get with the combined package?  The reliable and versatile Technisat single tuner receiver with Fransat cam will enable combinations of French Channels with : 

    German, UK, Spanish,  Italian, Hungarian, Arabic and many more

    For the very popular  TNT  receiver made by Strong model SRT 7404 , for anyone wanting a replacement or a second remote for a bedroom ( usually £22 from distributor ! ) 

    Dishes not allowed on your building?

    Invisible Dishes

    There are plastic see-through  dishes available for TNT (65cm) and Fransat (80cm)  Check out these on the Dishes in Disguise page.

    Human Rights

    Under this bill passed in parliament, anyone is entitled to a dish, to receive anything important to the individual – You can appeal a “No Dishes Allowed” order, in court!

    IPTV from France

    I can now offer you French TNT channels through IPTV: please read my article on iptv on my separate blog – frenchchannels.co.uk  

    11 thoughts on “Watch French Channels in the UK”

    1. Hello. Now Sky and Virgin have discontinued the chanel TV5MondeEurope, can you please suggest a way of receiving the chanel via satellite with the option of switching between English and French subtitles. We would also like to be able to program the set top box in advance to record programmes. We currently have a Sky dish and set top box. Our tv has 3 hdmi sockets all of which are currently used. We would thus need some kind of splitter or buy a new tv with more hdmi inputs, or unplug something. My wife is a French teacher and has used the channel extensively until it was recently discontinued, a real nuisance. She is not particularly interested in any other chanels. Many thanks.

      Reply
      • Hi Bill,
        I would suggest that a dish to receive both Astra 1 and Hotbird, would be the best solution, you would then be able to see the TV5 monde Europe programme with subtitles in English and French. Many German, Italian and quite a few more free language channels would be available to you on the same dish. You could also expand the available free French channels by adding a 3rd lnb on the Eutelsat 9b satellite.
        See my full detailed TV5 monde page on the blog frenchchannels.co.uk

        Reply
      • We would also like to be able to program the set top box in advance to record programmes

        I can’t see any answer to this question?

        Reply
        • Most stbs have some form of recording capability, in most, simply plugging in a USB recording media device is enough *. Sadly French providers TNT and Fransat are lacking the necessary software to be able to program from an EPG ( programme guide ) but you can usually set up a timer fairly easily, setting up the clock is critical, set up the time to start and end ( or length of recording ) and lastly the channel. If you’re stuck email me with the make and model of your stb and I’ll try to help.

          * formatting the USB device should be done on the box, if you cannot get the box to recognise your device, reformat it with the PC Verbatim utility first ( it can be downloaded from my site see recording page )

          Andrew

          Reply
    2. Hello,

      This might be a stupid question but I wanted to double check the only way to receive French TV in the UK is via a satellite dish? You can’t ‘just’ have a box without the dish?

      I’m only checking as I rent a flat so not sure I’d be allowed to install a satellite dish but would love to get French TV, as I’m French and when my family comes over they can also watch it 🙂

      I’m not very knowledgeable about all the options available so thanks in advance for the advice.

      Sabrina

      Reply
      • Hi Sabrina,
        On the internet you’ll find a few iptv offers, the problem is which is official and legal? In the last month the Italian Police raided a big company suspected of selling tv channels via iptv without the rights to do so , consequently many thousands of boxes over the continent went off as they all relied on the software from them….
        Best recommendation, get satellite – no interruption of service, same service as in France, same boxes as sold in France , perfectly legal.
        Andrew

        Reply
    3. We have a TNTSAT decoder (Strong 7404) which has worked well but now we cannot get any French channels. The German and others are fine and the signal & quality strength is good on those channels.(95% and 90%). On the French channels the strength is 99 and quality between 6 & 9.

      Have you any suggestions please

      Reply
      • Hi Tim,
        Has your card expired – check these free channels below, if they are ok, then check when you bought the card, it should last 4 years. Contact me to order a new card.
        LCI or C News
        Those are on the same frequency as France 5, and TF1 film series, so if they are working, then your dish and receiver must be ok, it is most probably the card expired.

        Reply
    4. We have recently moved from Astra to Hotbird because TVi (Spain) has changed. We also watch TV5Monde and can get this on Hotbird as well, but whereas we used to receive the Information which populated the EPG (Samsung Smart TV) it now appears to be missing. Any ideas would be welcome.

      Reply
      • Yes there have been a number of changes, you would be better with both Astra and Hotbird lnbs. Available subtitles and EPG info is different on the two satellites.

        Reply

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