Potential Changes Coming to RVers’ Satellite TV Service

RV Satellite TV

There’s been a lot of talk lately about RVers’ satellite TV access. So what’s all the fuss?

The Skinny on Satellite TV

The U.S. Code Section 119 license, AKA “The Satellite Home Viewer Act,” is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to reauthorize it. This provision allows satellite television providers like DirecTV or DISH to supply distant network feeds to RVers and long-haul truckers (plus sticks-and-bricks residents in rural areas). Network feeds include ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC networks.

Up to Congress: Extending the Satellite Act

This summer, Congress will vote on extending the Satellite Home Viewer Act, which is subject to renewal every five years. In the past, its renewal has never been considered controversial. However, in the current U.S. Congress, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress have called for it to expire.

If the provision is not extended, thousands of RVers, long-haul truckers, tailgating sports fans, and rural Americans may lose access to network TV service.

Click here to watch a June 2019 House of Judiciary Committee Meeting hearing.
To fast forward to the specific exchanges about Section 119, scroll to 1:27:30 and 2:22:29.

How RV Satellite TV Currently Works

Currently, providers “spot beam” local channels from satellites in the sky, which means a satellite dish must be stationary to properly receive the signals. Of course, for RVers, this is not possible since the dish is not in one set location.

However, thanks to the Section 119 license that is now under review, providers can offer local broadcasting through a program called Distant Network Services (DNS). DNS pulls the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC network feeds from the New York- and Los Angeles-based network affiliates.

For a more thorough explanation of how this works, check out this article from DirecTV.

What RVers Can Do

AT&T, owner of DirecTV, is seeking consumer support to prevent Section 119 from expiring. Members of RV and trucker organizations are encouraged to contact legislators with their thoughts on the potential decision.

In addition, FMCA, along with other RV interest groups, has drafted letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting renewal of the Section 119 license and, thus, keeping RVer’s satellite TV service:
Letter 1 
Letter 2

If you are currently purchasing DNS broadcasting through your satellite provider and are concerned with losing your access to network channels, you are encouraged to contact your local Congressional representative or the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

FMCA helps to protect RVer’s rights and advocate on behalf of the RV community. Do you have satellite TV service in your RV? Comment below, and be sure to reach out to your legislators to share your opinion!

Updated 10-22-19

5 Comments on Potential Changes Coming to RVers’ Satellite TV Service

  1. We used to have DNS through All America Direct, but dropped it when they went from broadcasting HD to SD. When we move and need to change our locals, all we do is call Dish Tech Support and tell them the zip code for where we are and they change our locals to the stations servicing that zip code. Is this sunsetting of the act going to affect this process? Or does it just affect DNS subscribers?

    • DNS subscribers will be affected if Congress does not reauthorize the legislation. When you call DISH to update your zip code, if the signal is somehow being broadcasted with the assistance of DNS, you may be affected.

  2. Yes, I have Directv in my coach. I rarely leave my spot beam coverage area so losing local network stations has never been a problem. If we are near a major metro area, we can just use the OFA to pull in local stations. My biggest beef with Directv is that we are only in our coach about 4-6 days a month on average. But, we still have to pay for a whole month! It would be nice to have a daily plan with Directv that would save me some cash. Some day, the wife and I plan to retire and full time it. Until that time arrives, it would be nice if Directv would get a little more RV friendly!

  3. I’m a full-time RVer (and a relatively new RVer) and wasn’t aware of this legislation, I thought it was an AT&T/DirecTV issue. DirecTV can no longer offer the service, so it looks like the legislation expires at the end of 2019. What is the current status? Is the topic completely dead or is there still a push to get DNS back?

  4. Congress recently passed the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019 (“STCPPA”), which the President signed into law on December 20, 2019. This law makes permanent the satellite carrier distant broadcast signal license found in section 119 of the Copyright Act for non-network stations and for network stations transmitted to RVs and commercial trucks and to “short markets” that lack one or more of the four most widely available network stations. It removes other previously permitted uses of the license and requires that a satellite carrier provide local service in all 210 designated market areas (“DMAs”) if it wishes to utilize the section 119 license. STCPPA also amends several provisions of the Communications Act. For further detail on those matters, consult the FCC’s website at http://www.fcc.gov.

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