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Sky Digital FAQ - updated 31/10/2004 for new "Freesat" FTV cards



 
 
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Old February 28th 05, 06:37 AM
Jomtien
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Default Sky Digital FAQ - updated 31/10/2004 for new "Freesat" FTV cards

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?
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?
5 Is it true you can't record Box Office movies?
6 I don't want to subscribe, I don't have a card or my card is old -
what about me? Updated
7 What channels can I get?
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 What are those letter codes in the programme information banner?
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
television?
39 Is standard teletext still available?
40 But I can't get analogue teletext...
41 What about Sky+? Updated
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:

1
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, remove the card and
clean it gently with a tissue.
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.

2
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
Yorkshire
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
CBBC
CBeebies
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
BBC One Channel Islands
Some interactive services
You can now find all the main BBC channels listed in the EPG from
around channel 940.

3
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.

4
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.

5
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.

6
I don't want to subscribe, I don't have a card or my card is old - what about me?

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. Much of the
output of the main broadcasters is in widescreen and all
these are good reasons for getting a digibox even if you don't want to
subscribe.
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. If you want to
receive these FTV channels without subscribing to Sky then
you can ring 0870 606 1111 and ask for a card, or visit
http://www.freesatfromsky.com/ where in the future you may be able to
apply for a card also. The card costs £20.00 and will last for at
least 3 years or more. These and all Sky cards will only work in Sky
digiboxes.
You will need to provide a UK address with postcode and your credit
card details to get this card. Caller ID is sometimes checked and
overseas callers may be refused a card. The card will be despatched
promptly by post to the given address. On arrrival you should follow
the instructions and insert it into the viewing card slot on the
digibox. The card may activate on its own within a few hours or you
may need to ring Sky to get them to activate it. If you do this you
will need to give your digibox's serial number. You can also use the
digibox's internal modem to activate the card.
The digibox phone connection is NOT obligatory for FTV card use or
activation. Once active, the card will decode the three FTV channels
(ITV, C4 and C5) in any digibox.
Older type viewing cards with a blue sky/clouds picture and the words
"Sky Digital" on the front are no longer working.

If you don't have a digibox or dish and don't want to subscribe to Sky
then you can get a (reconditioned?) digibox and dish installed by them
for £150 which includes the cost of an FTV card.

If you are currently a Sky subcriber then you do not need an FTV card.
If ever you cancel then your existing card will continue to decode the
three FTV channels until the next card change.

7
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.

8
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 magazine.

9
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 graphics.

10
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+

11
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..

12
What are those letter codes in the programme information banner?

C is copy protected
DS surround sound
DD Dolby Digital (only available with a Sky+)
L letterbox format
N narrative
T subtitles
W widescreen
The rating codes are
U
PG
12
15
18
The content codes are
s = sex or nudity
l = strong language
v = violent scenes
m = material for mature audience

13
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.

14
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.

15
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.

16
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.
FUNCTION DEFAULT BUTTON FUNCTION CODE
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

17
How can I watch Sky throughout the house?

You can 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. 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.

18
How can I watch two different channels in two rooms?

You can get a second cheaper subscription from Sky. The monthly
subscription is £10 for a card that will "mirror" your
existing subscription. Sky will also sell you another box or you can
get one elsewhere. You will need to keep BOTH
boxes permanently connected to the same UK phone line in order to have
this cheaper second subscription. This is obligatory and is checked
regularly.

19
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.

20
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.

21
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 first.

22
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.

23
Where is the timer and programme planner?

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.

24
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.

25
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.

26
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.

27
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.

28
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 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.

29
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.

30
I can't get rid of personal planner reminders or favourites in the EPG.

Remove the viewing card and reinsert it upside down or back to front.
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.

31
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.

32
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.

33
How does it all connect up?

As a general rule you should make your connections as described here.
If you have very specialised 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.

34
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.

35
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.

36
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.

37
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.

38
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.

39
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.

40
But I can't get analogue teletext...

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

41
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 £199 to buy and your dish needs to be modified to use it
(the new parts are often 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:
http://www.toreadmore.com/sky+/

42
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.

43
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.

44
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
and they now regularly produce new interactive features in the same
vein. '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.

45
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.

46
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.)

47
World-wide-web?

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

48
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.

49
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.

50
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.

51
How can I get Sky outside the UK?

In the ROI (Republic of Ireland) Sky offers almost the same as service
as in the UK now: phone connection requirements,
mirror subs, Sky Interactive Pay services, Sky+ etc. There are just
some small variations in prices.
The major differences a
Irish TV channels:.
The price and package is decided by Sky and they are only available to
Irish addresses.
Currently Sky is not regulated in Ireland.
Currently Irish TV is only in the Family Pack and higher.
The card is "married" to the box for RTE
Channel numbers:
RTE1 = 101
NET2 = 102
TV3 = 103 (Virtually ITV these days)
TG4 = 104 (Irish and English Language. The best if you already have
BBC & ITV etc).
Irish National Radio is FTA on Sky, apart from Today FM.
A subsidised installation costs 15 Euro with Sky World. You can
downgrade the pack after 1 month.
Unwary folks have been charged over 100 Euro by "cowboys".
The BBC EPG numbers for ALL TV and ALL Radio are missing except BBC1
and BBC2
BBC1 NI = 214
BBC2 NI= 215
(BBC Interactive works completely)
S4C~Digidol though is now on 184 as in UK.
Since all the BBC channels are now FTA, 214 and 215 work on a
cancelled ROI sub card and RTE, TV3 and TG4 don't!

Since all the BBC channels are FTA there are two ways of getting the
BBC on a Sky box using an ROI card:
1) If the sub is cancelled, repower the box at the mains with a blank
card or upside down card. Ignore error messages. This
gives the UK FTA EPG with almost all of 2weeks listings.
2) Add the channels manually (see above). No interactive services, but
no red dots either! Only now/next program listing.
This is more convenient if using ROI Sky card for RTE/NET2/TV3/TG4
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.

52
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

53
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 and
http://www.ukfree.tv
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.

54
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, Steve T.
This FAQ was originally written and maintained by James Cridland.
Jomtien has now gracelessly, sorry, graciously accepted this thankless
task.


31/10/2004 V1.45
 




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