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Sky Digital FAQ - updated 10/1/03

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Old July 6th 03, 06:40 AM posted to uk.tech.tv.sky
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Default Sky Digital FAQ - updated 10/1/03

Sky Digital FAQ

Last updated 10/1/03

Summary: This article answers questions about the UK digital
television satellite system "Sky Digital": the equipment needed for
reception, and channels and services carried. This FAQ primarily
describes the Sky Digital package as provided to UK residents.
Residents of the ROI may not have full access to all the features or
channels, nor may the purchase subsidy or its UK requirements
necessarily be applicable to them. Residents of other countries should
be aware that most of the SkyDigital service is restricted to people
with the use of a UK or ROI address.

These are the questions that are answered he
This problem just started with my digibox ......
How do I find a list of extra frequencies and channels?
Where are the foreign channels?
Can I get BBC 1's Scottish/Welsh/N Ireland version, instead of the English version, or vice-versa?
Is it true you can't record Box Office movies?
I don't have a Sky card - why can't I watch the free channels?
What channels can I get without a subscription? UPDATED
Do you get radio with this system? UPDATED
Why doesn't Skyview, the subscriber magazine, list all the programmes available?
What's the best box?
What connections are there on the back?
How much do they cost?
Why would I want to get a digibox and not subscribe to Sky?
Do I get a choice of box?
How do I get an extra remote control?
My remote control doesn't do all of my television features.
I have a One-4-All replacement remote. How do I programme it?
How can I watch Sky throughout the house?
How can I watch two different channels in two rooms?
I've installed my TV Link but it doesn't work.
What's with this phone connection?
Do Sky telephone the box?
Will the telephone connection mess up my internet?
Where is the timer and programme planner?
My signal strength seems a bit low - is this a problem?
But my picture freezes even when it's not raining.
My box is dead/not responding/freezing etc. What can I do?
My box works but I can't get ITV
How do I force a software download?
Can I change the output channel that my digibox broadcasts on?
I can't get rid of reminders or favourites in the EPG. UPDATED
How do I access the installer menu?
Can I change the preset channel numbers?
How does it all connect up?
When I go into RGB mode, the picture jumps to the left. How can I stop this?
What's in widescreen?
Why do I have vertical black bars on my widescreen television?
Why do I have bars at the top and bottom on my widescreen television?
Is standard teletext still available?
But I can't get analogue teletext...
What about Sky+?
What's "Sky Active"?
What's "PlayJam"?
What else is interactive?
That interactive red button drives me mad. What can I do?
Can I surf the internet? E-mail?
When do I get my interactive card?
Is the picture affected by weather?
I'm moving. What about my dish?
How can I get Sky outside the UK?
Where can I discuss SkyDigital further?
Where can I learn more about satellite and Sky Digital?
This FAQ is rubbish. What can I do?

And here is where the answers start:

This problem just started with my digibox .......

The very first thing to try if your box is doing strange things is to
reset it.
Remove your card. Put Digibox in standby. Switch the box off at the
mains for at least 30 seconds. While unplugged, wipe the gold contacts
of the card carefully with a dry tissue to remove any static build-up.
(Note: use a tissue, not a jumper!) Switch the mains back on. Allow
the box to restart which takes about 20 seconds. Insert viewing card
when prompted.
This cures most common problems. If it doesn't work then you can look
a bit further for the solution to yours.

How do I find a list of extra frequencies and channels?

The "add channels" function is there so that if a satellite channel
wishes to start up but not pay for inclusion in the electronic
programme guide, they can still be accessed by viewers, using the
"Services" menu. At present there are no extra English- spoken
television channels available in this way, but a good few radio
services. See www.lyngsat.com for full lists of all channels.
You can input the following frequencies to get the ITV channels as
broadcast to other regions:
10.832/H 22.0 and 5/6 Gives:
Carlton Central
Carlton Westcountry
HTV West
HTV Wales
10.891/H 22.0 and 5/6 Gives:
Border England
Border Scotland
Tyne Tees
10.906/V 22.0 and 5/6 Gives:

Where are the foreign channels?

Sky Digital comes from a different satellite, in a different position,
than analogue Sky - so you won't get any of the old German channels
that you used to get from analogue Sky. The digibox is not a
fully-featured digital receiver, can only pick up certain digital
channels, and has no facility for adding other decoding modules for
other satellite operators. Despite that, there are some channels that
are available to you if you have a motorised dish - again, the Lyngsat
site carries full details. However, be aware that by moving your dish
away from the SkyDigital satellite you may be operating the equipment
outside the terms of your contract.
If you use your digibox to view channels from another satellite you
may find that it needs rebooting when switching back to Astra2. Try
this workaround: After moving back to Sky at 28E, select ITN News (on
EPG 525). Wait a few seconds and this channel should be received OK
and then all the others should start working again too.

Can I get BBC 1's Scottish/Welsh/N Ireland version, instead of the English version, or vice-versa?

BBC 1's national programming is strictly controlled by contractual
rights, so if you live in Wales you will only get BBC 1 Wales.
However, the 'other' versions of BBC 2 are available to everyone. The
BBC have stated that, in 2002, they plan to allow all variants of BBC1
to be available to all viewers. If you can't wait then your only real
option is to tell your card supplier that you have moved to an address
within the BBC area that you wish to receive.

Is it true you can't record Box Office movies?

Yes, that's mainly true - they use Macrovision (which, incidentally,
VCR tapes and DVDs also use). Sky say that most movie- makers insist
on copy protection for pay-per-view channels. Not all Box Office
movies (though the vast majority) are copy protected - any
copy-protected programme is marked "C" in the information section of
the EPG. Macrovision works by adding extra brightness pulses into the
part of the signal that the TV doesn't normally display because of
overscanning. The brightness pulses upset the automatic level control
of the video which ends up overdimming the picture. Macrovision
blockers are available, but to use them to breach copyright is
illegal. Very, very old videos will record a Macrovision signal.

I don't have a Sky card - why can't I watch the free channels?

FTA channels, like Sky News and QVC, are Free To Air, meaning that you
can watch them without a card. FTV channels, like the BBC and Channel
4/5, are Free To View, meaning that you can watch these channels
without subscription but you will still need a card for copyright
reasons. If you don't have a Sky card, you can get hold of a free one
for non-subscription television. Call 08702 438000 with your name, UK
address and box serial number (see the services menu : sevices - 4 -
If you cancel an existing Sky subscription your card will continue to
decode all the regular FTV channels. You do NOT need a new FTV card.

What channels can I get without a subscription?

All references to "BBC cards" include expired Sky cards.
101 BBC 1 (With BBC Card)
102 BBC 2 (With BBC Card)
103 ITV1: Your region. (With BBC Card)
104 Channel 4 (With BBC Card) Except in Wales.
105 Channel 5 (With BBC Card)
160 BBC Choice (soon to be renamed BBC Three) (With BBC Card)
161 BBC Four (With BBC Card)
181 Travel Channel
184 S4C
193 Channel Health
202 Life TV / Christian Inspiration Network / Vision TV
208 Magazine Showcase
220 Fashion
223 Game Network
229 You TV
238 Big Entertainment Network
241 Reality TV
247 Classics TV
327 TCM
410 The Racing Channel / TRN International
414 Go Barking Mad
416 Motors TV
422 Extreme Sports Channel
425 gobarkingmad
455 Chart Show TV
461 P-Rock
464 Classic FM TV
501 Sky News
507 BBC News 24 (With BBC Card)
508 BBC Parliament
513 CNN International
519 S4C2 (very limited hours)
525 ITN News Channel
528 Euronews
579 Simply Nature
580 Simply Nostalgia
581 Simply Einstein
603 Boomerang
621 CBBC Channel (with BBC Card)
622 CBeebies (with BBC Card)
630 QVC
631 TV Travel Shop
632 TV Travel Shop 2
634 TV Shop (aka PIN)
635 Ideal World
636 Screenshop
637 Shop America
638 Travel Deal Direct
639 Simply Shopping
640 Best Direct
641 Simply Health & Fitness
642 Simply Jewellery
643 Simply Holidays
644 Shop USA
645 Simply Shop +
646 TV Warehouse
647 Bid-up TV
648 Thomas Cook TV
649 TellSell
650 Lets Go Shopping
651 Auction World
652 Shop on TV
653 Simply Home
654 Simply Music
655 Thane Direct
656 Shop Smart
658 Shopping Genie
659 Shop 24/7
660 Stop & Shop
661 Yes 661
662 Screenshop 2
663 TGH
664 JML Direct
665 Chart Shop TV
671 GOD
672 GOD 2
674 TBN
675 Wonderful
683 TV Jobshop
684 Community Channel
685 Dating Channel
686 txt me tv
687 Open Access TV
688 The Dating Channel 2
689 TX 1
801 B4U Music
805 PCNE
807 mta Muslim TV
824 Abu Dhabi TV
826 Simply Asian
827 ATV
960 BBC 2 - Other versions (With BBC Card)
961 BBC 2 - Other versions (With BBC Card)
962 BBC 2 - Other versions (With BBC Card)
963 ITV1 : Neighbouring region: only in ITV overlap areas. (With BBC Card)
964 ITV1 : Neighbouring region: only in ITV overlap areas. (With BBC Card)

Do you get radio with this system?

Radio is available from EPG# 850, including all national stations from
the BBC and commercial broadcasters, and other channels (notably XFM,
Heart FM, and some digital-only radio channels).
The radio channels a
851 BBC Radio 1
852 BBC Radio 2
853 BBC Radio 3
854 BBC Radio 4 FM
855 BBC Radio 5 Live (requires BBC Card)
856 Classic FM
857 Virgin Radio
858 TalkSport
859 Classic Gold
860 The Mix
861 Planet Rock
862 Core
863 Capital Gold
864 XFM
865 BBC World Service
866 BBC Radio Scotland
867 BBC Radio Wales
868 BBC Radio Ulster
869 BBC Asian Network
870 BBC Radio 4 Long wave
871 youthfm.com
872 WRN EurMax
873 Premier
874 Heart
875 UCB Europe
876 Cross Rhythm
877 OneWord
878 ITN Radio
879 Solar Radio
880 Punjab Radio
882 Prime Time
883 Sunrise Radio
884 talk Gospel
885 Total Rock
886 UCB Inspiration
887 The Storm
888 TWR
889 The Scene
890 UCB Bible
891 UCB Talk
892 RTE Radio 1
894 SBN
895 Club Asia
896 Real Radio
897 EWTN
900 Sukh Sagar
901 Asia Gold
902 BBC WS Extra
905 Relax with a Book
908 Gaydar Radio
909 Family Radio
911 BBC 6 Music
912 Purple Radio
913 Apna Radio
914 RTE 2
915 Lyric FM
916 Raidio na Gaeltachta
917 Jazz FM
918 Akash Radio
919 BBC1 Xtra
920 BBC Radio nan Gaidheal
921 Galaxy 105
922 BBC 7

Why doesn't Skyview, the subscriber magazine, list all the programmes available?

Sky decided that the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) was enough for
most people, so removed the limited programme listings in the

What's the best box?

At the moment, boxes run almost identical software and hardware, and
all boxes offer virtually the same features - although independent
testing by the satellite press does reveal differences in picture and
sound quality. All remote controls are the same. Some brands have
extra connectors on the rear. See below. Most people seem to find that
the Panasonic boxes have the fastest menu display and on-screen

What connections are there on the back?

All boxes have mains input, dish input (F-type), TV SCART (composite
video out, RGB out), VCR SCART (composite video in/out, RGB
loop-through in), Telephone line (RJ11), Aerial in, RF out 1, RF out
2, Audio out (2 phonos), RS-232 (apparently disabled), Digital
interface (for which nothing exists yet). Sony digiboxes and the Sky+
also have a digital output, which carries sound data only. This is
fully functional, despite anything you may have seen from Sky, Sony or
on the newsgroups though only the Sky+ model supports DD 5.1
Grundig model /2 and 3000 series boxes have an S-Video mini-DIN output
plug, as does the Sky+

How much do they cost?

If you will agree to having your phone connected to the digibox then
Sky give you one box for free.. The price of installation, which is
obligatory, varies from £0 to £100 depending on who you get to do it,
whether you subscribe and which package you take. Only one "free" box
per customer. If you don't want (or can't have) the phone connection
then boxes cost around £250 - £300 from dealers. There are sometimes
special offers to be had on Sky's website.
The free box offer for use with an FTV card is to be reintroduced in
January 2003. So you don't need to subscribe to Sky to get a free box.
You will need to pay full whack for the installation of the free box
though if you don't subscribe.

Why would I want to get a digibox and not subscribe to Sky?

You could just get a box and get a card from the BBC, to watch digital
services from them and ITV, C4 and C5. You'd get quite a few extra
channels free (like BBC Choice, BBC Four, CNN, Sky News, Travel and
many shopping and Asian channels). There is an opportunity, however,
to get subscriptions to other programme providers like Asian channels,
adult channels and a racing channel, without having a Sky
subscription. Much of the output of the main broadcasters is in

Do I get a choice of box?

Ask nicely, and you may get a choice of box but you probably won't. If
you go to an independent dealer, rather than one of the chains, you
stand a much better chance of getting the box you want (and an earlier
installation, too). You may pay a bit extra for this.

How do I get an extra remote control?

You can get them from most satellite shops and most of the usual high
street electrical stores. Prices vary from £10 to £20. All regular Sky
remotes are the same so you needn't worry about the brand of your
digibox. Only the Sky+ uses a different remote and these are available
direct from Sky and also from places like Satcure.

My remote control doesn't do all of my television features.

You can reprogram it. See http://www.burgins.com/skydigital.html or
http://www.sathelp.co.uk or
You will also find full instructions on how to programme your remote
if you push the "interactive" button and follow the prompts through
from the "Sky Questions" option.

I have a One-4-All replacement remote. How do I programme it?

The One-For-All device code for all Sky Digiboxes is "0847".
To programme your One-For-All remote to work with your Digibox, follow
these steps.
1. Press the SAT device key.
2. Press and _hold_ MAGIC until it red light blinks twice.
3. Type 0847 on the keypad.
4. The red light will blink twice to confirm that the SAT button will
now make your remote control the Digibox.
By default, not all of the functions on the original Sky remote
control are available on your One-For-All remote. However, you can
program any of these functions onto almost any of the keys by the
following procedu
1. Press the SAT device key.
2. Press and _hold_ MAGIC until it red light blinks twice.
3. Type 994 on the keypad. The red light will blink twice again.
4. Press & release MAGIC once.
5. Enter the relevant three-digit function code from the list below.
6. Press the key you wish to assign the function to.
TV A/V (when in menu) 238
Sky (none) 526
Power Power (unknown)
TV Guide Menu 300
Box Office (none) 425
Services Play 449
Interactive Fast Forward 357
Mute Mute (when not in menu) ???
"i" Pause 596
Volume + Volume + (unknown)
Volume - Volume - (unknown)
Program + Program + (unknown)
Program - Program - (unknown)
Select Mute (when in menu) 432
Cursor up Cursor up 720
Cursor down Cursor down 456
Cursor left Cursor left (unknown)
Cursor right Cursor right (unknown)
Text Text/Rewind 435
Backup 10 534
Help (none) 262
Red Red/SP+LP 553
Green Green/Stop 577
Yellow Yellow/Record 313
Blue Blue/Auto 657
You may encounter problems with the Select, TV & Backup keys. This is
because they "double up" on their function, and the remote & TV can
get out of sync with each-other (the remote thinking the TV is in menu
mode when it isn't, and so on.) As such, you may want to directly
program the "Mute" key with the "Select" function, using the
instructions for programming keys as given above, so that the
Mute/Select key _always_ acts as Select.
The One-4-All code for Sky+ boxes is 1175, and will probably need to
be downloaded from OFA. There is a list of Sky+ key magic codes posted
on www.tarsins.co.uk/skyplus

How can I watch Sky throughout the house?

The TVLink is available from 0870 333 7775, for £14.99 inc VAT and
P&P. You can also buy different versions of TVLink from high street
electrical stores and satellite dealers from between £10 and £20. They
allow you to watch the same Sky channel on a second TV, lets you
control the digibox from there too, and also acts as a distribution
for your normal terrestrial TV channels. It uses coaxial cable, which
you need to buy and fit yourself. It works fine, although other
equipment (remote control extenders from Rabbit, Powermid and One 4
All are also available) would allow you to control your video, DVD etc
too. Note that the TVLink available from Sky when you order the box
also includes installation and a second remote for an all-in price,
whereas the mail-order version doesn't include the second remote, nor
the installation. http://www.tvlink.co.uk/ If you have any amplifiers
or other loft splitters etc. between the Digibox and the remote TV
then you will need some special equipment to "loop" the remote signal
around the device. This equipment is made by the same people who make
the Sky remote extenders. There are now several of these.
If you don't fancy having cable running over your house then you can
buy a video extender for about £80 and up. These use microwaves to
send the picture and sound to your second TV. They also normally have
a return path for the remote control signals thus allowing you to
change channels or operate your VCR etc. remotely.

How can I watch two different channels in two rooms?

You can get a second cheaper subscription from Sky. The monthly
subscription is £15 for a card that will "mirror" your existing
subscription. Sky will also sell you another box for £220 or you can
get one elsewhere. You will need to keep both boxes connected to the
same UK phone line in order to have this cheaper second subscription

I've installed my TV Link but it doesn't work.

Go into the hidden installer's menu and activate the RF2 power output:
Services 4 - 0 - 1 -select You must connect the TV Link to the RF2
socket. Never be tempted to activate the RF2 power output if you are
not using a TV Link. If you have any splitters, distributors or
amplifiers in the circuit that aren't directly compatible with the
TVLink then you may need to fit a special "looper" device around them.

What's with this phone connection?

The phone connection is primarily for Sky Active, the interactive
television service, for e-mail and purchasing goods. It is also used
by Sky to communicate which pay-per-view events you've bought, which
software version your box is running and possibly your use of
interactive advertising . It is unclear what other information is
transmitted to Sky through the digibox phone link; Sky claim that they
do not send any programme viewing information from ordinary
subscribers. If you're a Sky+ user, your additional Sky+ contract
gives Sky the right to take your viewing information: both live and
recorded. They also have the right to know when you fast-forward
through segments of programming. Your contract lets Sky, and programme
providers, get this data, minus any personal identification: so next
time you forward through the ads during Emmerdale, it's possible that
YTV know that at least someone hasn't seen the ad break.
The phone connection is not obligatory, although most people agree to
it because it gives you money off your first digibox. In any event,
you do not need a phone connected to your standard box after the first
year's contract, though you may wish to keep the box connected. If you
have paid full price for your box or if you have bought one
second-hand then it will never need to be connected to the phone.
Sky BoxOffice events are still bookable if you unplug the box but
you'll need to ring customer services yourself and you won't be able
to order things from Sky Active.
All boxes will receive software upgrades in the normal way regardless
of whether they are connected to the phone or not.
If you have a cheap "mirror" subscription and second box then both
boxes must be connected to the same UK phone line for as long as you
maintain the mirror sub.
If you have a Sky+ installed by Sky then the phone connection is also
obligatory for the first year. It is unclear whether this applies to
Sky+ boxes not fitted by Sky.
Sky appear to use caller ID for verifying whether or not the mirror
sub boxes are on the same phone line but they do not seem to use
caller ID verification for regular digiboxes or for the Sky+. In fact
they don't actually seem to check the existence of the phone
connection at all, except for the mirror sub.

Do Sky telephone the box?

No, the satellite tells the box to phone home, which it does (through
an 0800 freephone number). It will check whether you are on the line

Will the telephone connection mess up my internet?

It's a nicely behaved box, and it checks whether you're on the phone
before using it. So, no. Some people report it slows their connection
down. That might be true; modems are very fickle. However, the problem
is more likely to be in the extension you've had fitted, rather than
the digibox. If it bothers you then just unplug the phone connection
whilst surfing.

Where is the timer and programme planner?

Recently released and causing significant problems with some boxes.
Push the "TV Guide" button on the remote to bring up the 7-day TV
guide. If you highlight a future programme and push "select" you will
bring up another screen (which can also be accessed as option 0 from
the main TV Guide menu). This screen lists programmes that have been
added to the timer. Push the red button to make the programme
"autoview" which should mean that the box will change to that channel
automatically as the programme starts. A few programmes also have the
"series" option available when they are added to the personal planner.
When set this should make the box switch to every showing of this
series of programmes. Some VCRs will automatically go to record when
the personal planner switches on an autoview programme.
You can modify all your personal planner settings from the PP menu in
the main TV Guide menu.

My signal strength seems a bit low - is this a problem?

Only a problem if your picture freezes. The signal strength reading is
pretty meaningless. The signal quality is the important one. Some
digiboxes seem to report this info in a very different way to others,
and upgrades of software seem to change the signal strength and
quality meter software. Don't worry too much what this says - worry if
your picture freezes at the first hint of rain, because that's not
normal. Any signal quality reading of over 40% should be OK. Check
your signal by selecting : services 4 - 6.

But my picture freezes even when it's not raining...

Check what's near your box. Mobile phones, cordless phones, PCs and
other things broadcast radio signals. Your Digibox, just like other
electrical appliances, picks up radio signals. Add interference from
these things and it can completely confuse the box, causing picture
freezes. See what happens if you move things away from the digibox, or
switch things off.

My box is dead/not responding/freezing etc. What can I do?

First try a reset (see above). This cures most problems. Some people
have reported that performing a 'new installation' via the installers
menu (services 4-0-1-select) can bring the box back to life. Failing
that reloading the software can solve quite a few problems. And if all
that doesn't work then Sky will currently come out and either fix or
replace your box for about £65.

My box works but I can't get ITV

You may have a 22khz switching problem.
The 22khz problem prevents the LNB from switching between the upper
and lower bands when the receiver sends a 22khz signal to the cable.
It can be caused by the following:
1) A faulty LNB that just doesn't switch - there is a known problem
with one old batch of Grundig LNBs.
2) Duff cable or some in-line gadgetry that doesn't allow the signal
to pass.
3) A faulty digibox that doesn't output the signal.
4) A known incompatibility between some models of Panasonic digibox
and some Cambridge LNBs.
Testing your box on a friend's dish and vice-versa will normally
isolate the problem.
You can also test the problem by doing this:
Try switching to ITV, unplug the LNB and plug it straight back in. If
the picture appears but doesn't return when you switch away and back
again then you have the problem.

How do I force a software download?

First, simply unplug your box from the mains and then plug it back in
again. This triggers any new software that your box may have
downloaded. If that fails: Remove your card. Switch the box off at the
mains. Press and hold the backup button down on the front of the box
(not the remote), then switch the mains back on without releasing the
backup button. Wait for about 20 seconds, until you see a message
appear on your television (which only appears on a SCART lead) and all
the lights come on on the front of the digibox. Then release the
button. Follow the instructions ie don't do anything for the next ten
minutes after which time the box will restart. Forcing a software
upgrade is not normally required since Sky upgrade all box software
automatically. Furthermore both new and old software may be
transmitted simultaneously so, if your box hasn't been told to
upgrade, you may still receive the old software. Experience shows that
many boxes download upgraded software but do not activate it until you
switch the box off and on at the mains. When Sky wish to upgrade your
box they simply send it a signal to switch off.

Can I change the output channel that my digibox broadcasts on?

Go into the installer setup menu (see below). But before you do, why
aren't you connected by the SCART lead? You get a better picture,
access to widescreen functions, and stereo sound.

I can't get rid of personal planner reminders or favourites in the EPG.

Remove the viewing card out and reinsert it upside down or back to
Disconnect the box from the mains. Wait 20 seconds or so
Plug the box back in and allow to reboot for 60 seconds
Press the sky button. The box will switch on to channel 998 with an
error message about your card
Remove the card and reinsert it the correct way around. Your problem
should be fixed

How do I access the installer menu?

Services - 4 - 0 - 1 - select. Be careful what you change. Be sure you
know what you're doing. You can ruin your box. Take care. etc.

Can I change the preset channel numbers?

You can't. This is primarily for marketing purposes, so that (for
example) Sky News is always on channel 501. There are a few regional
differences to channel numbering; for example, Channel 4 for Welsh
viewers is on 184, while Wales's own fourth channel, S4C, occupies the
104 channel slot.

How does it all connect up?

As a general rule you should make your connections as described here.
If you have very specialized equipment then these suggestions won't be
For the aerial lead:
Aerial=RF lead=VCR=RF lead=TV
In other words you don't need to have an RF (aerial) connection to or
from the digibox unless you don't have any scart connections. The same
applies to any other such device (DVD) that you may have.
If you have another TV on which you want to view Sky in use in another
room you should do this:
Aerial=RF lead=VCR=RF lead=Digibox (RF in)
Then from the digibox you should run RF outlet 1 to your main TV and
RF outlet 2 to your remote TV.
If you get interference you may need to adjust the RF output frequency
of the digibox.
If you have a DVD (or similar) then connect its RF input to the RF
output 2 of the digibox and run the RF lead to your other TV from the
DVD RF output.
For the scart connections:
You should always use scart connections if your TV and VCR support
them (almost all do).
Set your digibox to RGB output and be sure to use the RGB scart input
on your TV. There is no need to connect the VCR directly to the TV
unless you have an S-VHS VCR with S-Video output in which case you
should connect the VCR to the your TV's S-Video input using the
correct cable.
If you have a DVD etc. then try connecting them up like this:
VCR=scart=Digibox=scart=DVD=TV (if your DVD has two scarts that
support RGB loopthrough) or just connect the DVD directly into another
scart socket on your TV.
If your TV has only one RGB scart and the DVD doesn't have two scart
sockets with RGB loopthrough then you may need to buy a proper
automatic scart switcher with full pass-through. Don't be tempted to
buy cheap scart "splitters": they don't work properly.
If you don't want this extra expense then you could try using your
DVD's S-Video output directly connected to the S-Video input of your
TV, if it has one.

PAL? or RGB?

PAL essentially encodes the SkyDigital picture then sends it to your
TV, which decodes it again. It results, on most sets, in an
artificially sharp picture and colour crawl; it also makes the EPG
flicker like mad. RGB only works via a fully-wired SCART lead, but
takes this decoding/encoding loop away, which makes the picture look
clearer. For optimum results, re-adjust the brightness/colour/contrast
once in RGB mode, if your set allows this. RGB mode is highly
recommended for most televisions; some users may find that their
television is not able to change colour and/or brightness, leaving
them with a dull picture, however.
Set your digibox to output RGB from the services: system setup:
picture menu.

When I go into RGB mode, the picture jumps to the left. How can I stop this?

The reason why involves a timing issue for PAL encoding, and most TV
sets are set up at the factory for PAL, not RGB. Your television set
may have a PAL/NTSC358 setting, in which case use "NTSC358".
Otherwise, you may be able to find an engineering test menu for your
television set to shift it permanently to the right to compensate. The
author used Altavista and searched for his TV model name.

What's in widescreen?

BBC1, 2, Choice, Four and ITV1, ITV2, Channel 4 and Channel 5 show
various programmes in widescreen. BBC News24 is a fully widescreen
channel. For films, Sky has a dedicated movie channel for widescreen,
but also occasionally shows widescreen films on its regular movie
channels. A few Box Office screens are widescreen. For sport, Sky's
premiership football, cricket and superleague coverage is in full
widescreen It is expected that other premium channels will
progressively go widescreen. The sound, incidentally, is Dolby
Pro-Logic (although many programmes are just in stereo). Dolby Digital
isn't available yet on SkyDigital except when using a Sky+ box.
Set your digibox to widescreen from the services: system setup:
picture menu.

Why do I have vertical black bars on my widescreen television?

Currently S4C and S4C2 are transmitting a permanent widescreen flag
which means your television will think everything is widescreen on
those channels. This is fine when broadcasting 16:9 widescreen
programmes, but not so fine when they broadcast 4:3 programmes, which
appear with black bars to the left and right. BBC NEWS24 is a full
widescreen channel, but much of its material (most reports and filler
programmes) is shot in 4:3. They artificially enlarge the picture to
make it appear more widescreen, but there are still black bars at each
side of the picture.

Why do I have bars at the top and bottom on my widescreen television?

For a "normal" TV, the ratio is 4:3 (i.e. it's "four" wide, and
"three" high). For widescreen, it's 16:9. But for some widescreen
films, the ratio of width/height is 2.35:1 - which is even wider than
TV widescreen. The bars at the top and bottom of the screen are
therefore still there. All commercials are supplied in widescreen
format, but many channels do not broadcast them in widescreen,
shrinking them to 14:9. This again adds black bars at the top and
bottom of the picture.

Is standard teletext still available?

Analogue teletext is available, but not on all channels. Sky have now
launched SkyText, a clearer, digital-text service, on their channels.
The BBC also have their own digital text service, with better
graphics, clearer screen type. The 'old' teletext has disappeared, or
will disappear, from channels with an enhanced digital text service.
Digital text looks nice but sadly much of the content of analogue text
is missing from it.

But I can't get analogue teletext...

Sometimes the box forgets about old analogue teletext. To get it back,
just reboot your box.

What about Sky+?

Sky+ is a new type of digibox that has a built-in hard drive that
enables you to record one channel whilst watching another. It costs
about £250 to buy and your dish needs to be modified to use it (the
new parts are included in the box). You need to take out an extra
subscription to get the full functionality. For a full description of
the Sky+ offer and box see this Sky+ FAQ:

What's "Sky Active"?

Sky Active contains shopping, film reviews, games, and other
information, available by pressing the "Interactive" button on your
SkyDigital remote control.

What's "PlayJam"?

PlayJam is an interactive games area of SkyDigital; with a large
amount of different games to play. By calling a premium-rate line, you
can register your score and be in with a chance of winning prizes.

What else is interactive?

Using the SkyDigital definition of 'interactive' (i.e. you press
buttons and things on the screen change), you'll find interactive
areas on television services QVC and Simply Money, and some
commercials are accompanied by a "Press RED now" graphic, linking
through, usually, to their areas on Sky Active. Sky News has an
impressive extra service called Sky News Active (again, reached using
the red button): this contains updated news and features, as well as
four extra screens of video. Sky Sports does interactive football
matches (offering different camera angles and extra information), as
well as a pay-per-play game for football viewers called SkyPlay. The
BBC produce a similar interactive news product to Sky News Active,
which you can access by hitting the red button during news programmes
or from the text button at any time. They have also pioneered a
stunning interactive version of "Walking with Beasts" that equals
anything that you may find on a DVD. They also produce interactive
sport, which currently offers a choice of audio track and highlights,
but no extra camera angles: this is currently available during FA Cup
matches. ITV2's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" is not currently
available as interactive on SkyDigital, but is planned to be so
sometime during 2002. 'Interactive' features are usually announced
with an on-screen graphic, generally marked "Active" or "Press red",
though sometimes only shown as a red button. In many cases you can
access them from the text button also.

That interactive red button drives me mad. What can I do?

Push the "back up" button to make the red dot disappear for a while.
Or press the red button then quickly press backup before the
interactive stuff loads. The red dot will be gone until you change
channels. This doesn't work for the BBC channels.

Can I surf the internet? E-mail?

Only email, through Sky Active and Talk21. (It's quicker and easier to
set up a Sky Active e-mail address via www.talk21.com.)


Soon - but only WAP sites. Sky announced that WML support will be
added, and it seems to be, though currently to sky.com only.

When do I get my interactive card?

There isn't one. That little slot is apparently to stick your "Mondex"
card in, but not yet and, by the looks of it, probably never. See
Soon all UK credit cards will also have a chip built into them and
these may be used in the interactive slot one day.

Is the picture affected by weather?

Normally, no. In a very heavy thunderstorm, either where you are, or
where the uplink to the satellite is, then sometimes you may get
slight problems; the author's box locks up in a very heavy
thunderstorm. If it happens more often than this, your dish was not
set up correctly, and that'll teach you not to have gone to an
independent installer. When snow is blown onto your dish and settles,
you may not be able to get anything at all - this is both normal and
also very rare. To protect your box always unplug it from the mains
and the telephone before thunderstorms.

I'm moving. What about my dish?

Your box and dish are yours to take with you. You probably won't care
to dismantle the dish and for about £40 Sky will install a new one for
you at your new house if you are a subscriber.

How can I get Sky outside the UK?

Sky broadcasts officially to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) though
there are some significant changes when crossing the border.
You can get an Irish Sky subscription billed in Euros but it does not
have all the UK FTV channels, only the UK FTA and Pay TV. An ROI card
removes BBC Parliament and BBC radio from the EPG, but they can be
added via the "other channels" menu or you can power on box with no
card in to get them FTA. An Irish Digibox is the same as a UK one, so
swapping an ROI subscription card for a UK FTV free card (UK address
needed) will work.. The ROI Family pack (not the cheaper packs) gives:
RTE1 101
NET 2 102
TV3 103
TG4 104
BBC1 NI 214
BBC2 NI Digital 215
S4C~Digidol is on the EPG at 184 but will not decode.
The Sky+ is not (yet?) supported
UTV may do a minus Granada version for ROI Sky in the future.
C4 and Five seem to have no plans to launch in ROI
There is no "mirror" subscription offer.
Older subscribers did not have mandatory phone connection. Interactive
is now available in ROI, so phone is mandatory for first 12 months.
There is NO ROI FTV card scheme.
Only uplinks from Ireland to Sky are regulated, no other aspect of Sky
is regulated by the ROI. As of Nov 2002, there are over 360,000 "real"
ROI subscriptions.
ROI channels might become available to NI postcode areas of UK, but
probably only on a UK Family pack or higher, not on the UK FTV card.
All the ROI national radio is FTA (except Today FM who are not on
satellite). RTE1, 2FM, Lyric FM and RnaG. RTE 1 on EPG is mono WRN
feed. The Teletext streams on the 4 Irish TV stations are available.

You can also get the Sky Digital package in mainland Europe, but not
terribly legally. Read http://europetv.cjb.net - they explain it all
much better than here.

Where can I discuss Sky Digital further?

Other discussion areas are available, notably usenet's uk.media.tv.sky
, uk.tech.tv.sky and alt.satellite.tv.europe

Where can I learn more about satellite and Sky Digital?

http://www.sathelp.co.uk and http://www.satcure.co.uk are good places
to start.
http://www.btinternet.com/~c.vowles/Sat/Sky.htm may be of interest as
may http://www.satcritics.com
http://www.analoguesat.co.uk will be of interest to those who want to
do something with their old Sky analogue receiver and dish.
And Google is always your friend.

This FAQ is rubbish. What can I do?

Write a better one or contribute to the improvement of this one by
posting about it in the group in which you read it.
Credits and copyright Simon Gardner, Graham Sorenson, Nathan Irving,
Simon Walker, Jomtien, Ali, Steve Thomas, Mark Wayt, Dave Aspinall,
Charlie Pearce, Richard Lambley, Ian Boswell, Kev, Mike Henry, Tim
Gray, Spycatcher, Bob Lucas, Peter Pratten, Gareth Kitchener, David
Clark, Ross Lockley, Julie Brandon, Watty, Hoop.

This FAQ was originally written and maintained by James Cridland.
Jomtien has now gracelessly, sorry, graciously accepted this thankless

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