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Distance Network Services

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Last Changed 8/15/2014

ABC CBS Fox NBC

Distance Network Services (DNS) is a satellite TV service that lets you receive the four major television networks anywhere you go.  There are rules for being able to receive DNS. The four major networks covered under DNS are; ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.

The first thing to understand that free television isn't free.  It has to be paid for by advertisers.  If ads are not viewed, the advertisers will not pay, and the television programming goes away.  That is the basics, there is no free lunch.

To understand the rules, we should first understand how the television networks (Networks) get paid for their programming.  Obviously, some of the Network's revenues is from national advertising.  There is also a large share of revenue from the local broadcasters (Locals), the people who put the signal on the air to be received by antennas, also referred to as Over The Air (OTA).  The Locals pay fees to the Networks based upon the population of the broadcast area the Locals cover with their OTA signals.  The Locals sell local advertising to pay the  Network's fees.

Cable companies get their local channels from the Locals since they generally cover the same area as the Locals OTA.  The cable companies do not pay for the Locals feeds because they cover the same area as the Locals OTA.  In fact, the cable companies must carry the Locals channels by FCC rulings.

The satellite providers, DirecTV and DishTV also provide local channels is certain areas.  This is called spot beam transmission because the satellite is focused on a small area of the country, somewhere in the 100 mile range, just about the size of the Locals OTA range.  The satellite providers also get their signal from the Locals in a manner like the cable companies.

The Locals get to sell the advertising slots on their channels and they pay the proportional fees to the Networks.  That is how the system works.

If people were allowed to receive their Networks from anywhere via satellite, them the Local's advertising revenues would be affected.  For example, let's say that without controls, half of the people of Austin Texas got their Network programming from New York via satellite.  The Austin Local ads would only be seen by half of the possible viewers.  The advertisers would not pay the same rate as for full coverage yet the Local would still be paying for the population of it's OTA coverage.  The Local goes out of business, the Network doesn't receive the Local's fees and the system breaks down.

Those who can't get OTA, Cable or Spot Beam Satellite

The FCC made some rulings to enable the Satellite providers to deliver the Networks programming to those located in places where they cannot receive OTA from the  Locals, cannot connect to a cable company, or are outside of a spot beam area.  This capability was called Distance Network Services (DNS) because the end user was distant from the Locals source.

To facilitate time zones, the decision was made to allow Network programming from the Eastern time zone and the Pacific time zone.

If you are located in a fixed location (house, apartment etc.) and you cannot receive OTA signals  from a Network, you are allowed to receive that Network via DNS.  There are situations like a local area may only have one or two of the Networks being locally broadcasted where the remaining Networks are available by DNS.  There are even situations where the fixed residence is within the OTA area but cannot receive the OTA signal like behind a mountain.

The rule for fixed residence reception of DNS when the residence is with the OTA area is that the Local has to approve the DNS waiver, the permission to receive the DNS Network.  The Local has the obligation to prove reception is possible if they deny the DNS waiver.

RVers and Truckers

RVers and over-the-road truckers present a special situation and a special DNS waiver.  By nature, RVers and truckers are moving around and usually are not in the OTA area of a home Local.  The FCC provides a Mobile Waiver which is based upon the registration of your RV or truck.  With the Mobile Waiver, the Locals do not have to approve the waiver.

The sensitivity of DNS

The Networks and the FCC allow DNS because it represents a small number of viewers.  The DNS viewers are watching local advertising that means nothing to them.  Since the locals ads mean nothing to the DNS viewers, the Networks cannot charge the Locals that provide the DNS feeds anymore for their expanded viewing area.  The Networks still get their national ads viewed.

The Networks do not take lightly if a satellite provider allows DNS reception by those without proper waivers.  In December 2006, DishTV had to stop providing DNS services because it was sloppy on the certification of the DNS waivers it allowed.  In June of 2011, DishTV could reenter the DNS marketplace because they had fulfilled a commitment to the FCC of supplying Locals into all of the 200+ DMAs that had been defined.

A company cannot allow a subscriber to have Locals channels and DNS, it is one or the other.

DirecTV DNS

DirecTV provides DNS services to it subscribers from New York for the Eastern time zone feed and from Los Angeles for the Pacific time zone feed.  If you qualify you can have both time zones for $15 a month.  This is not quite double the fee for spot beam locals.  The new CW network and PBS are also available for an extra $1.50 a month.

DishTV DNS

When DishTV supplied DNS, it was labeled as Out of Market Locals, includes the East Coast (New York) and the West Coast Los Angeles) plus a National PBS channel.  The cost for this service was $5 a month.  At this time, DishTV is not offering DNS services. More information from Dish TV.


Disclaimer: The information in this site is a collection of data we derived from the vendors and from our personal experiences.  This information is meant as a learning guide for you to  make your own decisions  Best practices and code should always be followed.  The recommendations we make are from our personal experiences and we do not receive any compensation for those recommendations.