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 Alexandria 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 Alexandria'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 Alexandria 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 KALB-TV, or any other NBC affiliate and have been receiving NBC 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 NBC for free from NewsChannel 5. 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 KALB 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:
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:
DISH Network Customer Service
P.O. Box 33577 Northglenn, Colorado 80233
DirecTV Customer Service
P.O. Box 92600 Los Angeles, California 90009