HOAs must allow owners more than 1 satellite dish

Editor's note: This is a first in a special four-part column that addresses how homeowners' associations should handle satellite dishes.

With the assistance of HOA expert Beth Price, who recently spoke to a Federal Communications Commission representative, I'd like to address issues concerning satellite dishes.

It appears that in order to be in compliance with the FCC's rules concerning over-the-air-reception devices, communities must allow any number of satellite dishes necessary to receive a signal.

There is no language that expressly pertains to dwellers having more than one dish contract, however, it may be best to permit the dishes and avoid any FCC regulatory issues. The representative did indicate that most dishes receive different channels and signals, so if homeowners or tenants have multiple contracts and move into one unit, they may be able to argue that they like the channels both dishes provide. (Tenants will need approval from their owners.)

The representative also advised that the word "approve" be avoided. According to the FCC, the landlord or property manager does not have to approve the dishes.

Below is an excerpt from a FCC document regarding these devices.

"In 1996, the FCC adopted rules for Over-the-air-reception devices. The OTARD rules prohibit restrictions on a property owner or tenant's right to install, maintain or use an antenna to receive video programming from direct broadcast satellites, broadband radio services (formerly referred to as multichannel multipoint distribution services or MMDS) and television broadcast stations. However, there are exceptions to the OTARD rules, including provisions for safety and preservation of historic areas."

The FCC later amended the rules to include exclusive-use areas by renters and customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals.

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, or antennas used as part of a hub to relay signals among multiple locations are not covered by these rules

The rule covers the antennas necessary to receive service. Therefore, a local rule may not, for example, allow only one antenna if more than one antenna is necessary to receive the desired service. For instance, if you wanted Russian language programming and it wasn't offered over your satellite dish, you could install an additional one for that programming.

Also, antennas designed to receive and/or transmit data services, including Internet access, are included in the rule (47 CFR, Section 1.4000).

For more details, visit fcc.gov. Next week, we'll take a look at more FCC rules on these devices

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, email support@hlrealty.com.