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Satellite Waiver Request

Published On: Jul 20 2010 09:35:37 AM MDT
Updated On: Oct 19 2011 09:08:03 AM MDT

A satellite waiver is a grant of permission from a local TV station that allows a viewer to import or subscribe to a distant or out-of-market network station. Satellite waivers are allowed for those households that are not capable of receiving the local network station using a properly installed conventional rooftop antenna. These households are allowed to purchase network stations via satellite.

Many people feel that they have a "right" to purchase anything they want and are often upset when a request for a waiver is denied. There is no such "right". Local TV stations have a franchise with the network to be the exclusive distributor of that network in their market.  NBC owns the rights to their programming. They contract with local stations called affiliates to broadcast NBC programming in a particular market area. Other stations are not allowed to broadcast NBC programming in that same market. For example, a Montana broadcaster cannot open a station and broadcast NBC programming in Seattle because there is already an NBC station in Seattle with exclusive rights to broadcast NBC programming. Conversely, a Seattle station cannot broadcast NBC programming in Montana.  Cable TV and satellite companies are also bound by these agreements. They are not allowed to import distant or out-of-market NBC stations because they do not own the rights to that programming. NBC owns the rights and grants those rights to the local affiliate stations by way of a contract.

There are many examples of this in other products. If you are a grocer in Bozeman and want to sell Coca-Cola in your store, you must purchase the soft drink from the local Coca-Cola bottling company. You can't buy the product from a dealer in Spokane and sell it in Bozeman. You can choose not to sell Coca-Cola in your store but if you want to sell it, you must purchase it from the local bottling company. As another example, only one TV network gets to air the Superbowl. Each network bids for the rights to the game and only one is the winner. In this case the National Football League owns the rights to the game.

NBC Montana no longer issues waivers for satellite viewers. The reason for this is that both Dish Network and DirecTV carry either KECI or KTVM depending on the viewer?s market. If viewers feel there is some reason that they need a waiver a request in writing explaining their reasons in detail needs to be sent to the Director of Engineering c/o KECI Television. E-Mails are acceptable. The request will be reviewed and a decision will be made within 10 business days.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(1) I don't want to put up an ugly outdoor antenna, why can't I get a waiver? I am not physically capable of putting up an outdoor antenna, why can't I get a waiver?

If you can receive a Grade B or better with a properly installed rooftop antenna, then you are not entitled to a waiver. This is the law, specifically The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, as amended in 1999. For those who don't want to put up an antenna for ascetic reasons, you might try putting the antenna in an attic. For those who are not capable of putting up an antenna, call the installer of your satellite dish, they may be able to help you with the installation.

(2) How does the TV station determine who gets a waiver and who doesn't?

We make a determination as to whether or not you can receive a signal from one of our stations. We base that determination on our extensive knowledge of where our signals reach and where they don't. We also employ the latest computer prediction method, which is often called the Longly-Rice model. Finally, there are hundreds of locations that we have visited and performed on site evaluations. These on site evaluations are done with a consumer type portable TV set using rabbit ears or a rod antenna.

(3) What is a Grade B signal?

A Grade B signal is defined by the FCC as the minimum voltage needed by a TV receiver to make a good quality picture. Specifically a Grade B picture requires a minimum of 64 dbu (db above 1 microvolt per meter) for UHF stations (channels 14-69); 56 dbu for high band stations (channels 7 - 13); and 47 dbu for low band stations (channels 2 - 6).

(4) The station engineer says I can receive their station but I cannot get anything?

Most people who have this problem do not have their antenna installed properly. Check for good connections; insure that your TV is set up properly (select antenna rather than CATV or cable; this is usually found using the SETUP menu); situate the antenna so that the lead-in wire is as short as possible.

(5) What antenna should I purchase and where do I find one?

Most TV dealers and repair shops also sell antennas and can recommend one that is right for you. We do not recommend the small antenna that mounts around the satellite dish nor do we recommend amplified rabbit ears. You can go to www.antennaweb.org and fill in your address. This site will tell you what channels you can receive, where to point your antenna, and what kind of antenna you should purchase. To make it easier, the antenna types are color-coded.

(6) I do not have a line of sight to the TV tower, can I still get a good picture from the station?

Yes! TV signals do sink into valleys and bend over mountaintops. Just because you can't "see" the tower doesn't mean that you can't get a clear picture.

(7) I have tried all of the suggestions but still cannot get a picture on your channel. What can I do? Is there any way to appeal your decision?

You have the right to challenge our decision to deny you a waiver. You must call your satellite service provider and request a challenge to our decision. Your satellite provider will contact us and we will agree on an unbiased third party to come to your residence and measure the signals. The technician will take five readings at various locations on your roof; these readings are then averaged. If a Grade B or better level is measured the waiver stays denied and the satellite service provider must pay for the evaluation. On the other hand, however, if a Grade B or better signal cannot be measured at your residence, the waiver denial is reversed and we pay for the on site evaluation. There is no appeal beyond this.

(8) I hear that the local stations are available to satellite subscribers?

KECI/KCFW and KTVM are available on both DishNetwork and DirecTV. Contact your satellite provider to receive NBC Montana.

9) Local zoning or community covenants prevent me from putting up an outdoor antenna. What can I do?

The FCC has made provisions that allow pre-emption of local zoning restrictions for rooftop antennas. If you were allowed to install a satellite dish, you will be allowed to install an outdoor antenna.

(10) How do I know what channel I tune to get NBC from my local NBC affiliate?

Our main channels are KCFW TV-9 in Kalispell; KECI TV-13 in Missoula; KTVM TV-6 in Butte and KTVM TV-6&42 in Bozeman. For other areas use the following list as a guideline:

Basin ch 2; Boulder ch 13; Darby/Conner ch 2; Drummond ch 10; East Missoula ch 14; Eureka ch 2; Ferndale/Lakeside ch 6; Big Sky ch 9; Hot Springs ch 5; Jackson ch 8; Lennep/Martinsdale ch 10; Libby ch 60; Philipsburg ch 9; Plains ch 11 or ch 68; Polson ch 7; St Regis ch 5; Superior ch 3; Thompson Falls ch 11; Three Forks ch 35; Virginia City ch 10; Ennis ch 9; White Sulphur Springs ch 7.

(11) I own an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and would like to be able to receive NBC programming when I travel. Can I get a waiver?

Yes! You must supply a copy of the RV's registration and other documents to your satellite service provider.