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Poor weather means bad luck for Sky TV customers

Staying in on a stormy night to catch up on missed TV is one of life’s great pleasures. While the weather may mean you lose your live TV signal, have you ever had trouble with recorded programmes?

Last winter was one of the stormiest in the UK for at least 20 years and the wettest since 1910, according to the Met Office. And every gale and downpour of chubby rain stopped my Sky dish from receiving a signal.

So what? You might say. Unless an engineer is on standby over my dish with a brolly, what do I expect? Well, it’s not the dish cutting out that bothered me, it was being unable to access the programmes I’d recorded on my Sky box.

We still need a signal

At the time, Sky’s set-up meant that if you couldn’t receive a signal, it must mean you’d stopped subscribing to its services. Sky+ boxes store recordings, but still require a recent satellite signal to let you access them. And signal outages can last hours.

This meant that your cosy evening plan to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones could be ruined by any outbreak of winter weather. Seeing as it was windy and rainy rather a lot last year, I spent quite a few evenings changing my plans.

We’ve also found that 68% of Which? members with Sky TV have experienced reception problems during poor weather. Heavy rain affected 76%, but snowfall (36%), strong wind (33%), thick clouds or fog (13%) and even normal rain (6%) are also problematic.

We’ve seen improvements

This year, Sky upgraded its system so that Sky+HD boxes allow access for up to 12 hours without a signal. Older boxes can access recordings for up to an hour.

Unfortunately, I still have one of their older boxes and as with a typical British winter, it’s pretty likely that it’ll rain or gale for longer than an hour. However, it’s still a big improvement and a move in the right direction.

Are you with Sky and have had difficulties accessing your recorded programmes? Do you think it’s unfair that you can’t access recorded TV in bad weather?


I have never noticed not being able to access recordings in bad weather, only live Sky TV getting no signal, but we do have a later Sky+HD box.

We record most programmes to watch at our convenience and have lost many a series because of various problems – some being no signal in bad weather. Sky catch-up sounds great, but the latest episodes of new series are only around for a few days so if you haven’t noticed a problem with a recording you have to wait until the series runs again. Then the series runs nightly instead of weekly so you might have to record the series in non-HD otherwise you get problems with space on your box.

There seems to be no logic behind what is available on catch-up and box sets. Various episodes of previous series can be available but not the latest of a new series.

But I do agree, it is unfair that you cannot watch what you have paid rather a lot of money for. I have always resented Sky retaining half your hard drive to download what they think you want to watch. Why can’t this space be used for you to request episodes that you have lost to be downloaded there instead.


You have already accepted that weather should effect your ability to watch programs on your Sky box.

Sky’s installation engineers are under pressure to complete the work as quickly as possible so once the dish is pointing roughly in the right direction and a picture appears the job is complete. In my opinion, if the dish is correctly aligned and the cable connection is watertight weather should not be a problem.

I have adjusted my dish without any special tools and I never have a problem watching live TV.


In my opinion, if the dish is correctly aligned and the cable connection is watertight weather should not be a problem” – This is not true. Any thunderstorm between the dish and the satellite causes a loss or deterioration of signal.


> Any thunderstorm between the dish and the satellite causes a loss or deterioration of signal.
Your right, thunderstorms will effect the signal because they cause electrical interference, but heavy rain should not even on the channels transmitted at lower power.


Poor reception during heavy rain can be alleviated by a larger dish and poor reception during wind can be alleviated by securing the dish so that it doesn’t move slightly.


You are right-NFH- as somebody with several large dishes pointing towards Astra 28 which is for sat freeview and Sky I do not get outages unless water gets in the cable or the dish is moved by the wind . Mine are anchored against a 2ft thick sandstone wall with extra stiffeners. AS a matter of fact I watch German Satellite on 19 Astra and have never had an outage (eurosport free on it ). If Sky made the standard dish a lot larger then half the outages wouldnt happen ,they also have special LNB,s which means you cannot directly replace their LNB with a superior one . Not many people seem to know that you dont need to buy the dish or LNB from Sky ,just buy their box (or your own ) and it will work okay as long as you pay for a card and set up.


The problem is that Sky mis-sells Sky+ as a service, whereas it is in fact functionality of the Sky box which is owned by the customer.

Sky+ is a PVR (personal video recorder). There are many PVRs on the market, all of which have the functionality to record television programmes on to a hard disk, unlike their predecessors, video cassette recorders, which recorded programmes on to tape. Sky+ is no different from any other PVR; PVRs record both from terrestrial signals or from satellite signals. The electronic programme guide (EPG), upon which PVRs depend, is free-to-air and is not dependent on a subscription.

Unlike other PVRs, Sky+ doesn’t work even on free-to-air channels unless you pay Sky a subscription, even though you have already bought and own the equipment. This is despite the fact that Sky+, like other PVRs, is functionality of the goods, not a service. Quite unreasonably, Sky remotely disables this functionality if you stop paying an unrelated subscription for its services or if your Sky box can’t receive a signal to confirm that you are paying the unrelated subscription. This practice by Sky is deceptive; it is disingenuous of Sky to disable functionality of goods owned by a third party by virtue of that third party not paying a subscription for unrelated services.


I regard TV as inessential to everyday life – I can take it or leave it. Many programmes are mindless rubbish. As for those many that begin with the warning “Contains violence and strong language” – why, oh why are we obsessed with such stuff? And the cost of Sky seems a ludicrous extravagance. So Freeview for us, miss a programme – too bad. Buy worthwhile DVDs. Far more important things in life to worry about. So I’d cancel your subscription, deprive Rupert of some income, and take up a hobby or read a good book.
OK – I’m in a cynical Christmas mood.


I really cannot understand why any sane person actually pays to receive a service which is available free.
PVR’s are cheap and good, the service (terestial for me,satellite an option) is good and free, unless you are into whatever it is you can’t get free!
All transmissions are affected by weather, at 12 Ghz rain (between the dish and satellite, not the drops falling on the dish) fade is considerable. A sensible sized dish, a good LNB and correct alignment to the centre of the satellite drift zone will eliminate most problems.
Dropout more than once or twich a year should not be acceptable.


While I don’t watch “live” TV anymore (I only watch Catch-up & save having to pay the Licence fee), I did used to have Sky TV and each time we had a storm, snow, pretty much anything it would go off and have a error message on the screen. It was annoying as hell, especially with how much Sky costs.

I think if I had Freesat (think it’s called) with no monthly fee it would be less annoying? Not sure.


I watch so little live TV that I like to think of my licence fee as supporting BBC radio, particularly Radio 4. I was thinking of getting a smart TV to watch iPlayer on a larger screen than my computer but from what has been posted on a recent Conversation, it might not be long before the hardware was obsolete.


“I was thinking of getting a smart TV to watch iPlayer on a larger screen than my computer but from what has been posted on a recent Conversation, it might not be long before the hardware was obsolete.”

I agree with you 100% wavechange, I am looking for a new TV (for my playstation’s) and wanted a smart TV so I could watch IPlayer too.

But due to another post on Which? saying how these smart TVs that are only a few years old no longer work with IPlayer it’s put me off. So thinking about just getting a normal TV and a lead to connect my laptop to the TV for iplayer.


That’s my plan too, Lee. My TV does not have an HDMI port, just a VGA connection, so I need a new TV. I remember saying that last Christmas too. 🙁


So you’re happy to watch iplayer (which is of course the BBC) but you don’t want to pay the licence fee! So who is to fund your ability to watch the programmes that are on iplayer? The rest of us of course would appear to be your premise.