Buying Satellite





From art house movies to Neighbours, Polish satellite channels have plenty of variety, but how well do they serve the ex-patriot community living here in the UK?



If Wiezniarki  doesn't have a familiar ring to it you're obviously not Polish or make a habit of watching the satellite TV channel Polonia at eight o'clock on Friday nights. Polonia is one of two Polish channels receivable in the UK, and in case you haven't worked it out yet, Wiezniarki is none other than the Aussie jail soap Prisoner Cell Block H, wonky props and all. Perhaps it gains something in the translation ...


The other Polish satellite channel is Polsat, and in addition there are three Polish-speaking satellite radio stations, PRT1, Radio RMF and Radio Free Europe. They're all aimed at the large Polish ex-patriot community spread across Europe, it's estimated that there are between 130,000 and 150,000 Poles living in the UK alone, so there is a clearly a healthy market for both the television programmes, and the satellite receiving systems needed to watch them.



Both TV channels are broadcast from Eutelsat II F3, positioned at 16 degrees East of South, that's right next door to the Astra satellites, which is handy because it is technically possible to pick up transmission from both satellites on one fixed dish. However, there are problems.  Eutelsat signals are weaker than those from the Astra birds. Neville Fox at Techno TV systems in London, who has installed quite a few systems for Polish ex-patriots agrees; '60cm Astra dishes aren't really big enough to get a good clean picture, you can get away with an 80cm but a one metre dish by far the best option, and we'd recommend a low-noise LNB as well, with a noise figure of 0.8dB or less'.


When it comes to the choice of receiver Neville has two suggestions. 'we'd go for a Eurosat JSR-3300 or Nokia Sat 1700'. Price is obviously an important consideration, so how much would a basic system cost? 'A fixed system would typically cost around 290' says Neville, 'that's excluding installation, it would rise to around 500 for a a motorised set-up, with two LNBs and  a Pace positioner'. Although you can get both TV channels on one dish, it would need to be steerable if you want to pick up all the radio channels as well. PRT1 and Radio RMF are no problem, they're carried on Eutelsat F3 and Astra respectively, but Radio Free Europe is broadcast from Eutelsat F1 at 13 degrees East of South.



Polsat's output can best be defined as general entertainment, there's a broad span of programmes -- mostly dubbed into Polish --  from Aussie and Brazilian soaps, to English and American movies, the kind of international pot-pourri in fact that you can see in almost anywhere in the world. The scheduling also contains a sprinkling of news and current affairs programmes but the emphasis clearly on populist material with plenty of serials. Polsat broadcasts for around eight hours each day, from five in the afternoon in through to the small hours.


The other channel is Polonia and it is more closely targeted at ex-patriots who want to keep taps on what's going on at home, judging by the amount of domestic TV programmes shown each day. Documentaries, music, history and art are recurrent themes, though there's no shortage of news and current affairs. The movies tend to be of the home-grown variety. Polonia broadcasts from seven thirty in the morning to early next morning.



The main problem for most satellite TV viewers who want to watch overseas channels is getting hold of up-to-date schedules, but not in this case. Dziennik Polski, or the Polish Daily is published in London and it carries full listings for both Polonia and Polsat, and there's a programme listing on the teletext service carried by Polonia. If you're Polish you probably already know all about it, but in case you don't The Polish Daily can be reached at 9 Charleville Road, London W14 9Jl. Telephone 071-385 9393.




Lech Sobieniewski has been living in Britain since 1947 but he still carries with him vivid memories of his home town, now part of Byelorusssia, in what was once Eastern Poland. 'I haven't been back, it's no longer there, but just recently I saw a documentary from my home, much has changed'. Lech now lives in Croydon and he had his satellite system installed just over six months ago. He has a Nokia 1700 receiver, connected to an 80cm Lenson Heath dish. 'It's on the side of the house, I can move it if I want to, I'm thinking of making up my own steerable mount but I would have to move the dish higher up, to get a better view of the Southern sky.


We asked, which of the two channels do you prefer? Lech was in no doubt 'I don't like Polasat, too many American programs and Neighbours, in Polish, no offence, but it's too much like the BBC and ITV. They show a few pre-war Polish films but I prefer Polonia'. Why is that? 'I'm interested in historical programmes, autobiographies and the news programmes, Polonia has very good international news, from all over the world'. Do you record any programmes, to watch later? 'Don't make me laugh, I record them all the time, I have far too many to watch now. There's some nice programmes for children, I record a lot of them for my grandson'. What are his favourite shows? 'He likes them all, he loves the folk dancing, when he sees it he dances like mad'.  Where do you find out about TV programmes? 'From teletext, though I buy Dziennik Polski, (the Polish Daily) on Saturdays, if I remember, Polsat announce their programmes every day, so I can see if there's anything I want to watch. The final question has to be would you pay to watch these channels, if they ever decided to scramble? 'Of course I would' says Lech, 'what else is there?'




SATELLITE/POSITION   TR   CHAN                        FQ/POL                        CONTENT                                                        


Eutelsat II F3/16 East       21    TV Pononia   11.080/H     ex-pat channel, gen ent.

                                             34     Polsat           11.638/H     domestic gen ent.



Eutelsat II F3/16                21     PRT1                                music and chat           

Eutelsat II F1/13 East       21     Radio Free Europe           news and reports

Astra 19.2East                   15     Radio RMF                      rock and pop    




R.Maybury 1994 1401



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