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
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?'
AND RADIO CHANNELS ON SATELLITE
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.
PRT1 music and chat
F1/13 East 21 Radio Free
Europe news and reports
Astra 19.2East 15
rock and pop
R.Maybury 1994 1401