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1.  Can I receive television broadcast stations on my satellite system?

Yes.  There are different ways satellite subscribers can get television broadcast channels.  Your ability to receive a particular station depends on several factors that are governed by legislation enacted by Congress and implemented by the Federal Communications Commission.  Satellite companies can provide local broadcast TV signals to subscribers who reside in the local TV station’s market, commonly referred to as “local-into-local” service.  In general, satellite companies can provide you with network broadcast stations that are not in your local market only under three circumstances:  1) the satellite carrier does not offer “local-into-local” service in your market and you are not “served” over-the-air by a local station affiliated with that network; 2) the satellite carrier does offer “local-into-local,” you subscribe to the package, and the out-of-market station is considered “significantly viewed;” or 3) the satellite carrier does offer “local-into-local,” you subscribe to the package, and the FCC adds the out-of-market station to your local market through the “market modification” process established by recent legislation.

2.  How can I get my local television broadcast stations if I am a satellite subscriber?

“Local” TV broadcast stations are stations that broadcast in your local area.  You have two options for receiving them as a satellite subscriber:

a)  Subscribe to the local television stations through your satellite company.

  • Most satellite television subscribers can get local broadcast television signals delivered by satellite (“local-into-local” service).  As of July 2021, DISH Network provides local-into-local service in all 210 television markets and DIRECTV offers this service in 198 markets.
  • Satellite carriers may charge for this service.
  • A satellite company has the option of providing local-into-local service, but is not required to do so.
  • “Local-into-local” means the stations located within a particular “designated market area” (DMA) are retransmitted by satellite to subscribers in that same DMA.  Your county is included in a particular DMA, and that means the satellite company can offer you the stations located in the same DMA as your county as part of your local-into-local service.
  • DMAs are determined by the Nielsen Company and are based primarily on its measurement of local viewing patterns.  Neither the FCC nor the satellite company plays any part in determining which counties are included in particular DMAs.
  • Generally, a satellite company that chooses to offer local-into-local service is required to provide subscribers with all the local broadcast TV signals that are assigned to that DMA, as long as they ask to be carried on the satellite system and are otherwise eligible (called the “carry-one, carry-all” rule).  However, a satellite company is not required to carry more than one local station within the DMA that is affiliated with a particular TV network in the same state.
  • You can ask your satellite company if local-into-local service is available for you.

b)  Receive local TV stations for free over-the-air with an antenna.

  • You can install a TV broadcast antenna in conjunction with your satellite antenna to receive local broadcast TV stations over-the-air.
  • This option is available whether or not your satellite service carries local broadcast stations in your area but does depend on whether your over-the-air antenna can receive broadcast stations at your geographic location.
  • Television stations received over-the-air using an indoor or outdoor TV antenna are not part of the satellite service and there is no charge for receiving them.

3.  Can the FCC add a station to my local market?

Yes.  The FCC can add stations to your local TV market through the FCC’s recently established “market modification” process if the station can show that it provides local service to your community and your satellite TV company has the technical ability to offer the station to your community. 

  • This process requires the station, your satellite TV company, or your county government to file a request with the FCC.  Although subscribers cannot ask the FCC directly for market changes, you can contact one or more of these parties to request they file the satellite market modification petition.
  • The FCC determines whether to grant a market modification based on five statutory factors, which allow petitioners to demonstrate they provide local service to the community.  The community may be considered to be part of more than one television market if it furthers the public interest.
  • If you do not receive stations from your home state (“in-state” stations), ask an in-state station, your satellite TV company or your county government, if this process can be used to add an in-state station to your local-into-local service.
  • For more information, including the criteria that the FCC considers in evaluating a request from the station, your satellite TV company, or your county government, see the FCC’s guide concerning the STELAR [STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014] market modification process.

4.  I am not receiving “in-state” broadcast TV stations from my local satellite TV service.  Can the market modification process be used to help address this problem?

Yes.  If you do not receive your home state’s (“in-state”) stations, it may be possible under certain circumstances for an in-state station, your satellite TV company, or your county government to use the market modification process (discussed above) to add an “in-state” station to your local TV market.

  • Although consumers cannot petition the FCC directly for market changes, you can contact the in-state station you want to receive, your satellite TV company, and/or your county government and request they file a satellite market modification petition with the FCC. 
  • The STELAR recognizes that some satellite subscribers are not able to access their home state’s news, politics, sports, emergency information and other TV programming.  This happens because of the way TV stations are defined as “local” for purposes of satellite carriage.  In some cases, it means you may be included in a local TV market (defined by a DMA) that is served exclusively, or almost exclusively, by TV stations coming from a neighboring state.

5.  Can I get television broadcast stations from outside of my television market (also known as “distant stations”) from my satellite company?

A “distant station” is one that originates outside of a satellite subscriber’s local television market, which is the DMA.  Satellite companies are rarely permitted to offer distant stations to subscribers.

6.  Will I need additional equipment to receive high definition signals?

You may need a new satellite dish, an additional (second) satellite dish and/or a new receiver box to receive HD signals.  Satellite carriers may require a second satellite dish antenna for high definition signals as long as all the local HD signals are received on one dish.  If you currently have two dishes, your satellite carrier may notify you that you will need to change equipment.  If you have questions about the satellite equipment you need to receive local, distant, or high definition stations, ask your satellite carrier.

7.  Whom should I contact for additional information?

If you have questions about the availability of local-into-local service in your specific area, your eligibility to receive distant TV stations, the procedure for obtaining a waiver, or other specific information about your satellite service, you should contact your satellite TV company or distributor.

List of Related Documents

If you have questions about this Information Sheet, please contact the FCC Call Center, toll free, at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).

Thursday, September 23, 2021