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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 16:54 GMT
BBC rejects sports rights fears
France v Ireland
The BBC shows Six Nations rugby in the UK
The BBC has dismissed claims that the end of its satellite deal with Sky will hit its sport and film rights.

The corporation is moving its transmissions to a satellite focused on the UK from May, from a satellite which broadcasts across western Europe.

It means the BBC does not have to renew a deal with Sky to encrypt its channels so they can be seen in the UK only.

Media analyst Anthony de Larriaga of SG Securities said that because the signal leaked into parts of France and Spain, the BBC risked losing its rights to sports and films by moving to the Astra 2D satellite.

Astra 2b reception map
At the moment, the BBC signal can be seen across Europe with a Sky card
"Astra 2D is not as tightly focused as they claim," he told the Media Guardian website.

"You can pick it up in northern France and parts of Spain. That's a potential problem if they have not got rights sorted out."

But the BBC has said the number of people who will be able to pick up unencrypred transmissions in Europe was "negligible".

Rights to sport and films are usually sold on a country-by-country basis.

According to Mr de Larriaga's theory, a viewer in France could, for example, choose to watch the Six Nations rugby on the BBC - rather than on domestic networks France 2 and 3, which paid for the French rights to the tournament.

Fringe reception

A similar situation occurs in the UK now when pubs using larger dishes to pick up Premiership football matches broadcast on Saturday afternoons to Scandinavia or Portugal.

No UK broadcaster can show football on Saturday afternoons.

But because parts of the country are on the fringes of the reception areas of foreign stations that can, it is technically possible - although legally risky - to pick up those broadcasts with the right equipment.

Astra 2D map
Astra 2D targets the UK and Ireland, but viewers outside could get a weak signal
A BBC spokeswoman said the number of people who would invest in such equipment to watch the BBC in mainland Europe would be too small to worry about.

"People in northern France would be able to pick up the signal but any further south and you would have to buy a large and expensive dish.

"They would also have to move their dish and so losing their normal French channels.

"We are not blase about this but we don't think the problem is a large one."

TV reception "leaking" into other countries is not just confined to satellite channels - enthusiasts have, for many years, tried to get signals from far away.

Viewers in the Republic of Ireland have been able to pick up analogue channels from the UK since transmissions began - while Northern Irish viewers can easily pick up RTE and other stations from across the border.

Meanwhile BBC television has also had a strong following for many years in the Netherlands and Belgium.

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