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Satellite Waivers

Satellite Home Viewers Act
Mar 2, 2001
SHVA General Information

The Satellite Home Viewer Act is part of the United States Copyright law. It was designed to protect the rights of program producers against unlawful duplication. In this situation, distant network signals are being introduced illegally into the Panama City market. Just as your local video store cannot simply duplicate movies and sell them to the public, your satellite company cannot simply take a network signal and sell it to you.

If Panama City?s local stations were available by satellite, it would not be a copyright violation to sell you our signal. At this time, however, the satellite companies are not distributing Panama City TV stations, therefore federal law prohibits them from selling distant network signals to people who live within the Grade-B signal of regular network affiliates.

If you live within the Grade-B signal of WMBB-TV (refer to signal map below), or any other ABC affiliate and have been receiving ABC programming by satellite, the law requires your satellite provider to either discontinue your network service or perform an actual signal measurement at your home to prove that the signal is too low. 

What To Do When You Lose Network Service?

By far, the easiest thing to do is get a good quality roof-top antenna and watch ABC for free from News 13. However, if you are certain that you cannot receive an over-the-air signal, you need to request a signal measurement from your satellite company. Measurements need to be performed by a qualified technician using a standardized rooftop antenna, lead wire, and signal strength meter. The law specifically puts the burden of proof on the satellite company, since you would be their customer.

You should also ask your satellite company to carry the local stations rather than out-of-state stations. This would avoid the copyright violation entirely. In addition, you may want to talk with your Congressman about requiring satellite companies to carry local stations. 

Requesting a Waiver

Generally speaking, your distant network service would not be disconnected unless you live within the Grade-B coverage area of regular network affiliates. Depending upon where you live, some stations may be willing to grant a waiver in order for you to receive distant network signals. You may be required to obtain an official signal measurement in order to get such a waiver. Your first step in requesting a waiver is to contact your satellite provider and request that they submit a waiver on your behalf. The waiver will then be transmitted to WMBB electronically where it will be considered. Your satellite provider will then be notified of the decision. Remember, if you are denied a waiver, you need to request a signal measurement from your satellite provider.

EchoStar (DISH Network) Customers
On June 11, 2003, a federal court in Miami ruled in a long-running, distant signal litigation. The following are stipulations contained within the ruling:

  • The court issued a NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION against EchoStar's retransmission of signals from out-of-market ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox television stations to subscribers who are not qualified to receive such distant signals under SHVIA. 
  • EchoStar must evaluate all of its distant signal subscribers against the standards set forth in SHVIA and turn off all ineligible subscribers by August 11, 2003.
  • EchoStar may not claim that any Grade B subscriber is "grandfathered" under SHVIA because it could not produce a list of such subscribers. (SHVIA
    did not provide any grandfathering for Grade A subscribers.)
  • The decision and injunction will not affect EchoStar's ability to
    continue to provide local-into-local service.
  • The court imposed a series of reporting requirements on EchoStar. The court also included very broad language in its injunction to ensure that EchoStar - including any of its affiliates - complies strictly with the terms of the injunction.

If you are an EchoStar (DISH Network) customer and your network reception has been terminated, you must contact your provider and request consideration for a waiver.

Contact information for Satellite Providers: