WGEM & Satellite Waivers - What you need to know - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

WGEM & Satellite Waivers - What you need to know

The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act


It is illegal for satellite companies to sell network services to households that can receive local broadcasters' free over-the-air signal from a rooftop antenna. Most locations in WGEM's viewing area have little difficulty receiving our local over-the-air signal and are not eligible to receive a distant signal (see coverage map). Those subscribers who cannot receive an over-the-air signal from a rooftop antenna may ask their satellite service provider to request a waiver on their behalf allowing them, if granted, to receive a distant network signal via their satellite dish.

In November of 1999, Congress passed revised legislation governing the transmission of both local and distant network broadcast stations over satellite systems. This new legislation is called the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act ("SHVIA"). Among other things, SHVIA changed the waiver request process. Subscribers should now request a waiver by communicating directly with their satellite company. The satellite company will forward requests to the local affiliates for consideration. Local stations are required to respond to requests they receive from satellite companies within 30 days. In many cases, the satellite companies can forward requests electronically to local affiliates, which speeds-up processing.

Many affiliates, including WGEM, and the satellite companies have access to sophisticated computer modeling software, which is utilized when considering waiver requests. It takes into account the coverage of our television signal, a viewer's location, and interference factors such as terrain. The computer model tells us, with a fairly high degree of accuracy, what signal strength a particular location should be receiving.

Signal strengths at or above grade B levels are considered to be viewable TV signals. Many waiver requests we receive from viewers are well above the minimum considered by FCC laws. Once that factor is determined the waiver request is denied.


As of 2012, DirecTV and Dish Network offers local channels in our viewing area. Under the SHVIA legislation, satellite providers will be able to provide WGEM-TV's signal (not a distant NBC signal), to dish owners when the satellite companies offer local signals in this market. We encourage you to contact your DBS provider with any questions you may have concerning the availability of local signals via satellite dish in this market.


If you are unable to receive your local broadcast TV stations with an outdoor over-the-air rooftop antenna, you may qualify as an "unserved household." If so, you would be eligible to receive no more than two distant network affiliated signals per day for each TV network. A "distant signal" is one that originates outside of a satellite subscriber's local television market, the DMA. For example, if the household is "unserved" the household could receive no more than two ABC stations, no more than two NBC stations.


The term "unserved household" means a household that: (a) cannot receive, through the use of a conventional, stationary, outdoor rooftop antenna, an over-the-air network signal of Grade B intensity as defined by the FCC; (b) is a subscriber to whom the moratorium applies; (c) is a subscriber whose dish is permanently attached to a recreational vehicle or a commercial truck; (d) is a subscriber to whom the C-band exemption applies; or (e) is subject to a waiver granted by the television network station.


The SHVIA provides that if the local network TV station(s) denies the request for a waiver, the subscriber may submit a request to the satellite company to have a signal strength test performed at the subscriber's location to determine whether the subscriber's signal is at least Grade B intensity. The satellite company and the local network TV station(s) that denied the waiver will then select a qualified and independent person to conduct the signal test. SHVIA requires that the test be performed no more than 30 days after the subscriber submits the request to the satellite provider. If the test reveals that the subscriber does not receive at least a Grade B signal of the local network TV station, the subscriber may receive the signal of a distant TV station that is affiliated with that network. If it is determined the subscriber can receive at least a Grade B signal they are responsible for payment of the testing. If it is determined that the subscriber is unable to receive at least a Grade B signal the TV station will pay for the test. The test will be performed with the proper outdoor antenna located approximately 40 feet above ground level.


Further information regarding the legislation that governs waiver requests is available on the FCC's web site. Information about using an antenna to receive local affiliate channels, as well as, complete program listings for analog and digital broadcast television, satellite television, and cable television can be found on-line at TitanTV.com . We hope this information is helpful.

As of May of 2009 there are currently 9 free over-the air digital signals in the market. With the proper antenna most viewers should be able to receive all channels with no monthly fee.

Additional Information

What happens if the request for a waiver is denied?

What is an "unserved household?

Reception of local channels

Receiving Local Channels via a Satellite Dish Currently

Satellite TV can't offer what local Network stations offer to the communities they serve and are a part of. Local news and breaking weather information are important to many local viewers. If you receive a distant network station you will not receive this information. Since home satellite is susceptible to reception loss during severe weather it's important to have a plan to receive breaking news or weather information that could affect you and your family. The installation of an outdoor antenna in many cases will be a permanent solution to your receptions problems.

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