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Sky Digital FAQ - updated for FTA BBC 13/7/03

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Old July 20th 03, 07:56 AM posted to uk.tech.tv.sky
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Default Sky Digital FAQ - updated for FTA BBC 13/7/03

Sky Digital FAQ

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
1 This problem just started with my digibox ......
2 How do I find a list of extra frequencies and channels? Updated
3 Where are the foreign channels?
4 Can I get BBC 1's Scottish/Welsh/N Ireland version, instead of the
English version, or vice-versa? Updated
5 Is it true you can't record Box Office movies?
6 I don't have a card or my card is old - what about me? Updated
7 What channels can I get? Updated
8 Why doesn't Skyview, the subscriber magazine, list all the
programmes available?
9 Which is the best box?
10 What connections are there on the back?
11 How much do they cost?
12 Why would I want to get a digibox and not subscribe to Sky?
13 Do I get a choice of box?
14 How do I get an extra remote control?
15 My remote control doesn't do all of my television features.
16 I have a One-4-All replacement remote. How do I programme it?
17 How can I watch Sky throughout the house?
18 How can I watch two different channels in two rooms?
19 I've installed my TV Link but it doesn't work.
20 What's with this phone connection?
21 Do Sky telephone the box?
22 Will the telephone connection mess up my internet?
23 Where is the timer and programme planner?
24 My signal strength seems a bit low - is this a problem?
25 But my picture freezes even when it's not raining.
26 My box is dead/not responding/freezing etc. What can I do?
27 My box works but I can't get ITV/BBC
28 How do I force a software download?
29 Can I change the output channel that my digibox broadcasts on?
30 I can't get rid of reminders or favourites in the EPG.
31 How do I access the installer menu?
32 Can I change the preset channel numbers?
33 How does it all connect up?
34 PAL or RGB?
35 When I go into RGB mode, the picture jumps to the left. How can I
stop this?
36 What's in widescreen?
37 Why do I have vertical black bars on my widescreen television?
38 Why do I have bars at the top and bottom on my widescreen
39 Is standard teletext still available?
40 But I can't get analogue teletext...
41 What about Sky+?
42 What's "Sky Active"?
43 What's "PlayJam"?
44 What else is interactive?
45 That interactive red button drives me mad. What can I do?
46 Can I surf the internet? E-mail?
47 World-wide-web?
48 When do I get my interactive card?
49 Is the picture affected by weather?
50 I'm moving. What about my dish?
51 How can I get Sky outside the UK?
52 Where can I discuss SkyDigital further?
53 Where can I learn more about satellite and Sky Digital?
54 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

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/LWT Carlton Central Carlton Westcountry HTV West HTV Wales

10.891/H 22.0 and 5/6 Gives:
Anglia Border England Border Scotland Granada Meridian Tyne Tees

10.906/V 22.0 and 5/6 Gives:
Channel Grampian Scottish UTV

And these frequencies are for the BBC channels:
10773 H SR 22000 FEC 5/6
BBC One England
BBC Two England
BBC News 24
BBC Four
BBC Three
BBC One Northern Ireland

10788 V SR 22000 FEC 5/6
BBC One West Midlands
BBC One North West
BBC One East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire
BBC One Yorkshire & North Midlands
BBC One East Midlands
BBC One East England

10803 H SR 22000 FEC 5/6
BBC One Wales
BBC Two Wales
BBC One Scotland
BBC Two Scotland
BBC Two Northern Ireland

10818 V SR 22000 FEC 5/6
BBC One West England
BBC One South East
BBC One South England
BBC One South West
BBC One North East & Cumbria
BBC One Oxford

10847 V SR 22000 FEC 5/6
BBC One Cambridge

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?

All the BBC channels are now available. See the frequency lists above.

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 card or my card is old - what about me?

FTA channels, like Sky News and QVC, are Free To Air, meaning that you
can watch them without a card. The BBC channels are also FTA. ITV, C4
and C5 are Free To View, meaning that you can watch these channels
without subscription but you will still need a card for copyright
reasons. At the time of writing no one is now issuing these cards so
if you don't have one already then you will need to subscribe to Sky
in order to view these free channels. You may like to complain about
this situation to your MP or the Department of Culture.
If you are still using an older type viewing card with a blue
sky/clouds picture and the words "Sky Digital" on the front to view
the FTV channels then the card may stop working soon. At the moment
there is no way of replacing your card other than by subscribing to
Sky. See above. If you have a dark blue card with a yellow "house"
design on it then the FTV channels should continue to work for some

What channels can I get with or without a subscription?

You will find full lists of the available channels on
http://www.mediabullet.co.uk/skydigi...x.php?page=epg and other
such pages.

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

Which is 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 and the usual one involves
taking the full package initially though you can downgrade to a
cheaper option after the first month..

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

You can use your box without a card to view the BBC channels that you
are used to. You would get quite a few extra channels free (like BBC
Three, BBC Four, CNN, Sky News, Travel and many shopping and Asian
channels). There are also many radio channels, some of them
exclusively digital. 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 widescreen.

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
http://www.screen-link.co.uk/skyremote.html. 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 £50 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/BBC

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
suitable. 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).
VCR=scart=Digibox=scart=TV 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, 3, 4 and ITV1, ITV2, Channel 4 and Channel 5 show various
programmes in widescreen. BBC News24 is a fully widescreen channel.
All the Sky film channels are now widescreen.. For sport, Sky's
premiership football, cricket and superleague coverage is in full
widescreen It is expected that other channels will progressively go
widescreen. The sound, incidentally, is Dolby Pro-Logic (although many
programmes are just in stereo). Dolby Digital isn't available 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
www.mondex.com 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 also get the Sky Digital package in mainland Europe, but not
officially. 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

12/07/2003 V1.30

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