The jpoc guide to English Language Television in Germany
There are a few ways and means to get English language TV in Germany. Here, I write about the ones of which I know. If you know of some others, don't forget to let me know.
It is rare for the main german channels to transmit anything in English but it does happen. mostly for films which are shown with sub-titles. These will be described in the listings as OMU (Original mit Untertitel)
With a regular aerial.
There is some English langage TV broadcast direct to air in Germany but not much and it all depends on where you live.
If you live close to one of the large British military bases, you may be able to pick up the British Forces TV station. This is broadcast at low power and you do need to be close by. I have never managed to pick it up despite living in Paderborn which is the home to one of the largest British bases in Germany. I've had a look at the schedules for it and it appears to be a bit "afternoon TV" if you get my drift.
Alternatively, if you live close to the border with Switzerland, Belgium or The Netherlands, you may be in luck.
Swiss TV occasionally shows British made programs in the original version. For example, when I was down in Konstanz, I could watch re-runs of Monty Python on a Monday evening!
Dutch TV and the Flemish services on Belgian TV often show films in English with Dutch/Flemish subtitles. Once again, you would need to be pretty close to the border to receive these but, it's worth looking.
Everyone's first thought is of course Sky. A normal sized dish will pull in all of the Astra channels all over Germany. Last time I looked, you could get Sky news, CNN, Eurosport, and CNBC in the clear. Also, Bloombergs financial news was available for a few hours each day. Everything else is encrypted and watching it is a breach of copyright whether you pay for a subscription or not.
Technically, the programmes are licenced for the UK only.
Channel five is "soft encrypted." That means that, if you have a videocrypt decoder, you can view this channel without a card.
A subscription to the Channel Four film channel is available for a few pounds a month or you can go for one of the Sky packages. However, you should note the following:
You will not be sold a card for one of these services unless you have a UK address at which you can do the business. Many people of course use an address at home in the UK and use that to subscribe and then view the programmes in Germany. As I said, this is illegal and if Sky spot what you are doing, they will turn your card off.
Furthermore, Sky want to withdraw their analogue services in the near future.
The main alternative is Hotbird which carries a number of English channels in the clear.
The programmes carried on German TV vary from place to place but you will generally find one or two English channels. CNN is pretty well universal and I guess inevitable. That may well be all that you get but just perhaps you will find NBC super channel or BBC world.
Also, on cable, you may find that some films are broadcast in stereo with the original (usually that means English) sound track on one channel. These are indicated in the listings guides.
Just as with the anaologue service on Astra, you can receive the Sky packages. Also, the main UK terrestrial stations transmit their programmes on the Astra digital service. All of these are encrypted and, again you will need a viewing card.
This is more of a problem with the digital services because Sky will only supply a service if you have a decoder linked to a phone line and so it is easy for them to spot that you are not in the UK!