Do I have some kind of legal right to receive satellite TV?

I’m buying a condo and had the building inspected today. I asked the inspector, who had been on the roof, if there was a satellite dish up there. There wasn’t, and I muttered something about needing permission to put up a dish anywhere outside my unit.

He completely surprised me by claiming that the association couldn’t stop me from putting up a dish. In fact, he said, even if it was an apartment and I was merely renting, the owner couldn’t stop me from installing a dish. He said there were court cases that had upheld this right.

I’ve never heard any such thing, and I tend to dismiss it. But this guy was recommended to me by 3 different sources, including my bank and my realtor and a co-worker as one of the best guys in town. And it seems something he might know, and he was very confident about it.

It sill sounds like bullshit to me, but I have to admit there’s lots of real things in the world that sound like ridiculous bullshit to me.

Anybody got the straight dope on this?

This might help you get started in your research:
**Thursday, August 17, 2000
Q: I rent in an apartment complex in Wexford. I had a satellite dish installed on the railing of my deck. The management has cable for us, but the reception is poor and I want more options. The manager says I have to take my satellite dish down. It’s against the rules. Do I have to settle on bad reception?.

A: Not according to the Federal Communications Commission. The government protects your right to have a satellite dish as long as it’s under a meter in diameter. (A meter is 39.37 inches). Since January 1999, the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule includes renters.

This doesn’t mean you can put up a satellite dish anywhere you want.

Your rights are limited to your own space … your exclusive space.

That means the area that you use and other people in the apartment building do not use, except at your invitation. Your balcony seems to fit that regulation. The roof or exterior walls do not fit the regulation.

FCC attorney adviser Roberto Rodas said you are not permitted to damage any property when installing your dish. No drills, no nails. Clamps are fine.

“As long as the dish is in the air space of the patio or balcony, you are within your rights. It can’t hang over the railing,” says Rodas. “Think of your balcony as an invisible box. Anything inside that boxed area is private air; outside of that box is public or common air.”

Although apartment management may have provisions against individual satellite dishes, this FCC rule supersedes state and local laws, including zoning, homeowners’ association rules and lease restrictions.

The only recognized restrictions are for safety or historic preservation.

If management refuses to allow you to keep your satellite dish, you can file for a “Petition of Declaratory Ruling” with the FCC and until the matter is resolved, you can keep your satellite dish in place – as long as the objection to your dish is not safety related or related to historic preservation.

To report a problem or get more information on this FCC rule, you can call (888) 225-5322.**

Here’s confirmation from Dish Network:

It’s true, all true.

I remember when the rule went through - in my area the dishes sprouted like mushrooms on a lawn after a rainstorm.

We just got our own dish last month. We’re very happy. :slight_smile: Now, when the husband and I spend the day lounging in the bed we have something to do after the first 15-20 minutes :smiley:

Not that installation was a problem - I have a way cool landlord. He had already let us run a 65 foot antenna up the side of the building for the CB and aviation band monitor. We just clamped the dish onto that - in fact, he helped us do it.

Unfortunately that doesn’t quite match what the guy told me. I don’t have a balcony or a deck. so unlees it will work right through a wall (which I’m pretty sure it won’t) then I still need permission from the association to put it up. And while I have half the ground floor, and windows on 3 sides, the only exposure I don’t have is southern, which means I need the roof.

In the UK there we have a system of shceduling buildings if they are deemed to be architecturally important.

This means they are listed as being Grade i, Grade II, or GradeIII.

Such buildings cannot be changed in any way unless those changes conform to certain rules, the Grade I’s can’t be changed very much at all, and this would mean the installation of a satellite dish.

Here is a very interesting site, for all manner of things but especially if you have any interest in English history, or just want a nice day out.

The building itself doesn’t have to listed for there to be restrictions on dishes in the UK.

Local Authorities can define areas where you need planning permission to put a dish up if it will be visible from the street. (And if you apply for planning permission you’re probably not going to get it. )

And it’s annoying as hell if you actually live in a listed building.

Huh - I wonder if it would work through a window…?

Satellite radio signals will go through glass (and fiberglass, so you can put a Sirius antenna in the trunk of your Corvette), but it seems glass causes trouble for satellite TV. DirecTV says “The satellite signal WILL NOT PASS through glass; don’t try to install your dish indoors!”, but this guy offers some tips on getting it to work anyway.