TV on your PC

A question I am regularly asked is to recommend a way for people to watch UK television on their computers. We’ve all thought about the idea, main TV being used and you want to watch something that’s on another channel, there are many types of service out there that can give you TV on your PC. Some are quite safe and other carry risks.

One way is a portal or VPN link service.

You need to be a little careful with these sorts of services, you need to be sure they are trustworthy. By connecting to them you are usually joining a VPN "virtual private network", in real terms it would be like linking your computer to total stranger sitting next to you in a café. While that in its self is not a good idea, it's also possible that the stranger could try and look at the contents of your computer over this link.

As you joined the VPN this bypasses the firewall and gives them access to any folders you have shared and in some cases complete access to your computer using something called administrative shares (these are enabled on most computers by default). So while you're watching television someone could be looking at your document and pictures or putting viruses and Trojans on your computer without you knowing anything about it.

Users of Windows 7 are a little safer, as the administrative shares are disabled by default and sharing is usually protected by a password. But it is still a risk and something you need to be aware of.

There was a big problem with this in Spain last year, people discovered private photos and information on the social media sites (Facebook, twitter, Flickr) that there is no way anyone other than a family member could have had access to. It was later discovered that they had been using a portal service to get around internet restrictions and the person running it had been searching their hard drives while they were connected.

Companies like UK Telecom offer their own much safer version of this service, but you need to be using UKTelecoms internet service to qualify. 

I have not used any of the services personally so cannot recommend one over another, there are lots to choose from but the biggest and most well-known are , , I am not saying do not use these services or that any one company is bad or doing things it shouldn't but knowing what you are getting into and its risks is very important. I am sure these are good companies and offing these services legitimately, they’ve been in business a while and have very limited negative reports which is a good sign.

If you are sure the company you are using is safe then go ahead, it’s a good way to get access to the UK TV. But if you are not sure then it's probably better to give it a miss, the risks are not worth the gains.

The other way to access UK TV on the PC is via a streaming service.

These services carry a lower risk as they stream the video from the internet to your computer. You choose the channel you are going to watch and just like YouTube the video feed starts to play in your internet browser window, or to their own special software. Most of these sites have a reasonable selection of channels or and often offer most of the Freeview (free to air) channels for free or for a small monthly payment. I’ve used Filmon a number of times with good success the service used to be free but now carries a monthly charge.

Alternatively, the BBC are due to launch a range to programs that can be downloaded in an iPlayer style software and viewed outside the UK later this year, prices have still to be announced but the charges will effectively pay for a licence to view the program.

The BBC are launching their own world wide app very soon, this is going to be 100% safe