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Federal Communications Commission -- August 1996

Placement of Direct Broadcast Satellite, Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service, and Television Broadcast Antennas 

As Directed by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules concerning restrictions on viewers ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites (DBS), multichannel multipoint distribution (wireless cable) providers (MMDS), and television broadcast stations (TVBS)

Receiving video programming from any of these services requires use of an antenna, and the installation, maintenance or use of these antennas may be restricted by local governments or community associations. These restrictions have included such provisions as requirements for permits or prior approval, and requirements that a viewer plants trees around the antenna to screen it from view, as well as absolute bans on all antennas. In passing this new law, Congress believed that local restrictions were preventing viewers from choosing DBS, MMDS, or TVBS because of the additional burdens that the restrictions imposed. To implement this legislation, on August 5, 1996, the Commission adopted a new rule that is intended to eliminate unnecessary restrictions on antenna placement and use while minimizing any interference caused to local government and associations. This rule will become effective after it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with requirement of the Paperwork Reduction Act.


The new rule prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance, or use of antennas used to receive video programming. These antennas include DBS satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39) in diameter (larger in Alaska), TV antennas, and antennas used to receive MMDS. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonable delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use, (2) unreasonable increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use, or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal. This rule means that, in most circumstances, viewers will be able to install, use, and maintain an antenna on their property if they directly own the property on which the antenna will be located.


The Telecommunications Act and this new rule are designed to prom9ote competition among video programming services providers, enhance consumer choice, and assure wide access to communications. The rule allows local governments and homeowners association to enforce restrictions that do not impair reception of these signals as well as restrictions needed for safety or historic preservation. The rule balances these public concerns with an individuals desire to receive video programming. The commission has asked for further comment on whether additional rules should apply to situation where a viewer want to install an antenna on property owned by a landlord or on common property controlled by a condominium or homeowners association.

This fact sheet provides general answers to questions that may arise about implementation of the rule. For further information, call the Federal Communications Commission at (202) 418-0163.

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