Last Changed 4/24/2012
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
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
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
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
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 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
DishTV supplied DNS, 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 is $5 a
More information from Dish TV.