Satellite dish TV regulations

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Satellite dish TV regulations
(Image by, courtesy of Alan Levine)

Satellite TV has more than 12 million customers in the United States, according to Dish Network. Many customers enjoy the features that satellite TV provide, such as clearer pictures in high definition (HD), Internet access, a vast array of television programs and networks to choose from and, reasonable subscription prices. But laws govern requirements, such as the size of satellite dishes, installation and the type of dwelling that addresses use and installation of satellite TV dishes and auxiliary equipment.

Installaction Fact

Satellite TV dishes should not be installed within a residence. The dish should be installed outside the residence, geographically facing the south to pick up the satellite television broadcasts. The TV dish can be mounted on the roof, side of a structure or on a strong railing. Professional Satellite TV dish installers use specialised equipment to examine where the strongest cable signal is.

Size of Satellite TV Dish

According to the rules of the FCC, the size of the satellite TV dish must not be less that a meter (39.37 inches--18 to 20 inches in diameter. This rule also applies to regular television antennas and antennas that also receive wireless cable signals. This applies to installations for apartments, town houses, condominiums and multi-family dwellings.


Under FCC regulations, apartment renters can have a satellite TV dish if it is installed in a permitted area. Landlords cannot prevent installation, maintenance or persuade the tenant to get an alternate service. Tenants can have a satellite TV dish in their private area but not in a common area of the complex they reside in. There is also a restriction on how many satellite TV dishes that one unit can have. The FCC regulation states that one dish per household is acceptable.

Special Installation Waivers

There are instances which a satellite TV dish must be installed in a geographical location to get the correct signal. This is usually in mountainous areas and remote regions. According to the FCC, a waiver can be granted for installation of a satellite TV dish to get a proper signal and also waive the size requirements of the satellite TV dish.

However, in a situation such as a town house, condominium or rental property, the tenant must get permission or a waiver from the appropriate authorities (landlord or homeowners association) for special installations in writing if capturing a satellite signal for the dish is a problem.

Prohibitive Costs

It is against FCC regulations for a viewer/tenant to incur extra costs for the installation of a satellite TV dish based on permits being required by a landlord, local governmental unit or agency or homeowners association. This is entitled as an "unreasonable expense" to the viewer/tenant and if charged, the party requiring a permit can face fines and court costs from the FCC.

Preventive measures

Before a tenant or homeowner subscribe to a satellite TV network, it is best to know the rules concerning placement of the satellite dish, rules concerning reception of the signal and if you live in a town house or condominium, that associations view on satellite TV dishes. Satellite TV dish technicians usually conduct an on spot inspection and know the applicable laws. It's always best to prevent miscommunication on the issue of installing and viewing satellite TV than to not know what is permitted by law.

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