Manual tuning allows you to access content through your Sky box that would otherwise be inaccessible. As digital programming is broadcast via the Astra 2 satellite system, which is approximately 28.2 degrees above the equator, you must first find the rough compass setting. The Astra 2 system consists of three satellites, all of which are close together. This allows dishes in the British Isles to pick them up as a single unit. While all three will transmit signal to Europe, coverage can vary.
Fortunately, the British Isles benefits from having a satellite which transmits a direct signal to the country. This is known as the 2D satellite, and is the “carrier” for BBC and ITV channels. Due to the focused transmission, they are the first channels outside of the British Isles to get lost. The remaining satellites transmit various international channels from throughout Europe, in a variety of languages. To find a full list, along with the corresponding frequency, visit Wikipedia’s list of Free to Air Channels.
Download Sky Updates
Before you begin, download the latest Sky software updates. If you have an old Sky HD box, you may not be able to tune in certain HD channels. Note: these steps may differ slightly, depending on the model of your Sky box.
Press the “Services” button on your Sky remote control. Navigate to “Options” and select “Add Channels”. This enables the Non-Freesat mode.
Enter the transmission parameters – frequency, polarisation – of the channel you’re trying to receive using the arrow keys. When the search has completed, press the yellow button.
Wait for a few minutes while your receiver attempts to locate the channels. The channel list will update in real time on your television screen; however, you should wait until the process is complete before moving on.
When the scan has finished, highlight the channels you’d like to watch by pressing the yellow button. A tick should appear next to them – remember to take note of the channel number! When complete, press “Select” on the menu screen.
BBC and ITV Content
You can select regional BBC channels through the standard channel list (in the 900s). If they are unavailable, you will have to manually tune your television using the tuning method above. The ITV license covers the entire United Kingdom; therefore, you should have no problem retrieving regional channels. However, your Sky box will only add the local network (using the provided postcode) upon installation. Additional ITV channels can also be tuned via the Non-Freesat mode highlighted above. In an attempt to cut costs, regional ITV channels will frequently carry the same programming; therefore, if some channels have the same shows, it’s not a mistake.
If you’re planning on signing up to and installing Sky, and would like to access channels that aren’t included in your standard package, tell your engineer. They may have to fine tune your satellite dish for you to retrieve certain signals. Alternatively, if the technical jargon of manual tuning is simply too difficult to get your head around, call a professional and they will guide you through the process.
Image: Iain Watson