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Receiving TV From International Satellites

With the right gear, you too can watch international satellite TV. Here's a look at what's required & the programs available.

By Garry Cratt

Since 1995, more satellites have been launched, more free-to-air channels have become available and prices have dropped, hence our revitalised interest in the subject. And all this in the face of Pay TV which continues to have mixed success in Australia.

One of the significant technological improvements that has had a major affect on home satellite systems is the introduction of MPEG broadcasting. This is a form of digital compression that allows a huge improvement in the efficient use of the satellite spectrum.

As more channels can now be transmitted within a fixed bandwidth, the operating cost to broadcasters has decreased, making international satellite broadcasts an economical alternative to shortwave broadcasting.

More powerful satellites now cover larger populated areas of the Earth than ever before, translating into a huge audience for broadcasters.

The good news isn't restricted to broadcasters. Consumers benefit from the mass production of digital satellite receivers, capable of producing high quality video and audio signals, at similar cost to an analog receiver a few years ago.

Depending upon your (earthly!) location, there are between eight and twelve satellites visible from Australia. These satellites carry around 200 channels of international programming.

While many of these are broadcast in the language of the country of origin (which is a great source for learning a language), there are enough English language channels to provide a great source of international news, documentaries and general entertainment.

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