Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I was recently asked why we chose to subscribe to the Italian SKY TV instead of the British version. The answer is very simple: MONEY. When we compared the costs, and thought about the time we would actually spend watching TV, the choice was easy.

We are still not quite sure about our monthly expenses, but we are definitely living on a fixed income and with the exchange rate being what it is, we need all the help we can get. As near as we could figure, the total cost for the British SKY would have been well over $100 per month. Since we don’t plan on watching a lot of TV in general, and since neither package offered Art what he really wanted, which was the US version of CNN, we didn’t see any reason to pay the additional costs. And with the Italian Sky, we still have many Italian channels, which we like to watch in order to help our Italian.

Here’s what the breakdown looked like for the two systems: For British SKY, the decoder box cost 400 BP (British pounds…I still don’t have my keyboard hooked up, and can’t get the laptop keyboard to make the pound symbol!) Although it’s possible to buy a used decoder box, or to rent one for a monthly fee, let’s just go with the 400BP for now. The cost of the basic, all around package with a good selection of everything costs 38BP. There are cheaper packages available, but this is the one we would most likely have selected. Now comes the interesting part.

In order to LEGALLY receive this service, you must have a British address. When I contacted SKY directly and told them I lived in Italy, they responded that it was illegal for me to have their service. Enter a dealer in Italy, who assures me that SKY is well aware of their huge subscriber list in Italy. He directs me to his site, where I learn that for a yearly fee of 125BP, his company can supply me with a British address. Let’s call that 10BP per month, just to keep the math simple. Then there’s an ADDITIONAL maintenance fee of 17BP per month…not quite sure what that is but…And of course you’ll have to pay someone to come and install your dish and set it up…who knows how much that runs? 100 euro? More?

Add all these fees up, and it comes to an initial outlay of the 400BP for the system, PLUS whatever is costs for the installation, PLUS a monthly fee of 38BP + 10BP + 17BP for a total of 65BP per month. With the British Pound now going for $1.80, that makes the monthly fee about $117…..OUCH!!! Even with a cheaper package, it’s still $100 per month, more or less. And Art still doesn’t have the “real” CNN.

So then we looked at SKY Italia…yes they too have the international CNN, and also CNBC. They also offer the official network of the Republican Party, FOX, and several Discovery Channels that are (mostly) in English. And quite an assortment of Italian channels, of course. We got the sports package, because it promised NCAA basketball, but what it mostly offers is LOTS and LOTS of soccer. Unless there’s lots of baseball this summer, I don’t know it the sports package will be a keeper or not. And music channels…quite a variety of those…they even have golden oldies. And the cost for this version?

The decoder box AND installation was 169 euro, and the monthly cost is 34 euro. Oh, and they do have pay per view, just in case we want to catch a movie. So, for our needs this was the way to go. I don’t think we’ll ever add the movie channel package, and I’m not so sure we’ll even keep the sports package, which would reduce our monthly costs, but I don’t remember by how much. Anyway, bottom line was the price, and that’s how we made our decision. At least now we get a great picture…our reception before varied from okay to terrible, depending on how the wind was blowing. And now Art can keep up with the US news, one of his favorite pastimes. Even if it is the international version.


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