Not Allowed a Satellite Dish? Not So Fast!

Competition is what keeps prices down.  And with a steady growth in the cost of cable television (government research found that the average price of “expanded basic” cable service has increased from $25 per month in 1995 to more than $54 per month today), customers have plenty of incentive to use other providers, like satellite companies.

However, many apartment buildings and housing developments have included prohibitions on satellite dishes as part of their leases or homeowner association by-laws.  As a result, a segment of the population has been cut off from this source of programming.

But there may be a way out for these folks.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promulgated the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule (47 CFR 1.4000) in 1996.  It prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance, or use of antennas used to receive video programming.  The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37″) in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas.  The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance, or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance, or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

Effective January 22, 1999, the Commission amended the rule so that it also applies to rental property where the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio.

There are several caveats in the ruling which you should carefully investigate on the FCC’s website (, or call them (1-888-225-5322) for clarification of your individual situation.  You can personally challenge a prohibition if you are indeed being unfairly denied a dish (or other receiver).  I did it successfully in a large New York City rental apartment building complex without using a lawyer.


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