Feature Article

May 01, 2012

FCC Rule Permits TV Antennas on Rooftops

Answering a reader’s query on the right to install TV antennas on rooftops because his home owners association (HOA) would not permit, USA Today tech writer Rob Pegoraro told the reader to show the HOA management the lengthy document on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) website titled "Over-the-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) Rule." According to Pegoraro, this rule was written to enforce a provision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which is neither new nor hard to interpret. It clearly prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas to receive video programming signals, wrote Pegoraro.

In fact, as per the report, FCC has extended the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to protect the right of renters to set up antennas within areas they control, such as balconies or porches, to receive signals from direct broadcast satellites (DBS), broadband radio service providers, and television broadcast stations (TVBS).  

The rule was amended by FCC in 1999 to include rental property so that the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio. Likewise, on October 25, 2000, the Commission further amended the rule so that it applies to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals. This amendment became effective on May 25, 2001.

Based on complaints from readers, Pegoraro’s report indicates that there are still some HOA associations or condo or coop boards that will not allow home owners to park a TV antenna or satellite dish on a roof or a balcony. “These restrictions often leave viewers handcuffed to a single vendor, the local cable operator, for TV service,” wrote Pegoraro.

However, for the satisfaction of the confused HOA’s quasi-governing body, Pegoraro indicated that the FCC rule prohibits satellite dishes larger than one meter wide (except in Alaska) and TV antenna masts that reach higher than 12 feet above a roofline. Furthermore, he added, “The FCC also allows antenna bans for safety or narrowly-defined historic-preservation rules.”

Additionally, according to this report, if a building has one central antenna for everyone, which provides reception as good as an individual model in one person's abode, its management can also block residents from setting up their own.

Anyway, FCC is encouraging frustrated viewers to call the commission for assistance at 888-CALL FCC (888-225-5322).

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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