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France - TV

In France you can choose from several types of television service. There is a terrestrial television service which uses the SECAM system and there is a variety of satellite and cable services if you want a wider choice of programmes, channels and languages.

English language television programmes are available on terrestrial television and some of them will be shown with French subtitles rather than being dubbed although dubbing is becoming increasingly popular. Satellite and cable television has a wide range of English language programmes and it is possible to get UK satellite television in French. A certain amount of free-to-air programming from the UK can be picked up using satellite equipment. Alternatively you can use the FreeSat service, which is a UK satellite system. The equipment required can be purchased easily in the UK and is available at a number of outlets in France.

Satellite television providers include Fransat, which is a French satellite television system which has a number of English language channels. To use the Fransat system you will need a satellite dish and decoder box. Canalsat is a subscription satellite service and the equipment can be purchased at a number of outlets and you will be committed to a contract.

To arrange connection you simply need to contact the local provider. Each one has their own requirements for connection but you will be expected to provide identification, proof of address and you will need to pay a deposit. Most contracts are for a 12 month period in the first instance and most providers offer deals to new customers, so your first few months service may be half price or less. Many of these companies can arrange installation through one of their shops or you can call their customer service departments. It should be noted that you are unlikely to find an English speaker when you call them, so if your French is not very good then have a French speaking friend with you.

There are independent installers in all areas of France so no matter where you are there will be somebody located within easy travelling distance of your home. Many will be able to install both satellite and cable services. In some remote areas cable services may not be available so you may have to rely on satellite television or terrestrial channels only.

Many French people choose to watch television via the internet but for many services a decoder should be purchased. These are available from internet providers. UK and US television sets are often not compatible with the French electrical system so buying a set when you arrive in France is your best option. This will, however, depend upon the television set that you have so consulting with an electrician in France will give you a better idea on your own situation.

France does produce a number of television guides so that you can readily find out which programmes are being shown. These include Télé 7 Jours and TéléCable Satellite and are readily available from a number of outlets. There are six terrestrial channels in France and each channel has its own style of programmes. TF1 is designed to appeal to the masses, with many reality television programmes, quiz shows and comedies. Channels such as Arte and France 5 show mainly programmes on culture. Canal+ has a reputation for showing good quality movies and documentaries. There is a wide range of information programmes such as current affairs and other news programmes.

In addition to the main terrestrial channels there are a number of local channels for different regions. These are intended to keep people up to date with the news, weather and local interest features for their own areas.

France does have a system for television licences. These are paid for with the taxe d’habitation (municipal tax) each year. When giving the details to the local authorities you need to select the box which says you have a television set. If you purchase a new television set while you are in the country you should be aware that your details are automatically passed to the authorities so that you can be charged this fee.

With many French people you will find that television does not seem to be as important as it is in the UK. Evenings are for spending time with family and socialising with friends and meals are very rarely eaten in front of the television.

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