TV satellite Dishes
In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules for Over-the-Air-Reception Devices (“OTARD” rules). The OTARD rules protect a property owner or tenant’s right to install, maintain or use an antenna to receive video programming from direct broadcast satellites (DBS), broadband radio services (formerly referred to as multichannel multipoint distribution services or MMDS) and television broadcast stations (TVBS). However, there are exceptions to the OTARD rules, including provisions for safety and preservation of historic areas.
The FCC later amended the OTARD rules to apply to rental property where the renter has exclusive use of an area, and to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals.
What Types of Antennas Are Covered Under the OTARD Rules?
The following antennas or dishes are covered by these rules:
- A "dish" antenna one meter (39.37 inches) or less in diameter (or any size dish if located in Alaska), designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite.
- An antenna that is one meter or less in diameter and is designed to receive video programming services via broadband radio service (wireless cable), or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals other than via satellite.
- An antenna that is designed to receive local television broadcast signals.
Antennas used for AM/FM radio, amateur (“ham”) radio, CB radio, Digital Audio Radio Services (“DARS”) or antennas used as part of a hub to relay signals among multiple locations are not covered by these rules.
What Types of Properties Are Covered?
Under the OTARD rules, an owner or a tenant has the right to install an antenna (that meets size limitations) on property that he owns or over which he has exclusive use or control. This includes single family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, townhomes and manufactured homes. In the case of condominiums, cooperatives and rental properties, the rules apply to “exclusive use” areas, like terraces, balconies or patios. “Exclusive use” refers to an area of the property that only the renter and people allowed by the renter may enter and use. If the area is shared with others or accessible without the renter’s permission, it is not considered to be an exclusive use area.
OTARD rules do not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association or jointly by condominium owners. These common areas may include the roof or exterior walls of a multiple dwelling unit. Under certain conditions, if a common antenna is available for use by residents, then the community association or landlord may prohibit the installation of an individually-owned antenna or satellite dish, provided the signal quality from the central antenna is as good as the signal quality from an individually-owned antenna or dish, and the costs of using the central antenna are no greater than the costs of an individually-owned antenna or dish.
What Kinds of Restrictions Are Prohibited?
Restrictions that prevent or delay installation, maintenance or use of antennas covered by the rule are prohibited. For example, in most cases, requirements to get approval before installing an antenna are prohibited.
What Kinds of Restrictions Are Permitted?
Restrictions necessary to prevent damage to leased property are permissible, as long as the restrictions are reasonable. For example, a lease restriction that forbids tenants from damaging the balcony floor when installing an antenna is likely to be permissible.
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