What is Free-To-Air (FTA)? Is FTA legal?
Free-to-Air (FTA) satellite is just what it sounds like. The channels are free to the user.
There is no monthly programming charge
to view them.
Free-to-air channels are broadcast in
either analog or digital signals. There
are hundreds of channels currently "in
the clear". Many of the available
channels are international language
channels. Many others are special
interest channels broadcast in English.
Take a look at some of the
free channels in North America.
American Satellite Distributors offers
FTA (free-to-air) satellite systems
as well as analog. The digital systems
that American Satellite Distributors
offers are DVB (Digital Video Broadcast)
compliant. The signal compression
method used to transfer the signals from
the satellite down to your satellite
dish is called MPEG-II.
FTA systems do not receive package
programming. You must purchase a
Dish Network system to receive package programming such as CNN, ESPN and HBO.
Many American Satellite Distributors
customers own two satellite systems; one
for the hundreds of free channels and
the other for special channels on a
subscription-based satellite system.
When you purchase a free-to-air
satellite system from American Satellite Distributors,
you are purchasing equipment certified
and licensed by the FCC. When you view
programs with your new FTA system, it is
totally ethical and legal. As long as
the equipment is not manipulated in
someway from its' intended use, you are
totally within the law when you view
Conversely, DirecTV, Dish Network, Bell
ExpressVu and World TV signals are not
free-to-air. They are scrambled 'pay',
or subscription channels. Some people
think that it is acceptable and legal to
alter satellite equipment in an attempt
to get free access to PAY channels.
Reception of subscription channels
without paying for them is at the very
least unethical. Alteration of
equipment that is not proprietary to the
program provider is definitely a “gray
area”. Alteration of DirecTV, Dish
Network or another provider’s
proprietary equipment in order to
receive free programming is definitely
unlawful. It is an action that is
punishable by imprisonment and fines of
up to $20,000. Recently, O.J. Simpson
was charged with theft of satellite
service and fined the full $20,000.
Availability of Free-To-Air Channels
Remember this about FTA: American
Satellite Distributors makes no claims
on behalf of the program providers.
While the number of free-to-air channels
grows every month, some channels go off
the air at some point. They move to
other locations or they may just cease
to exist. Our listings reflect what is
available to our knowledge on this
date. We try to update it as promptly
as possible. However, you can be sure
about the current availability of a
channel by consulting
Ku Band and C-Band
Free-to-air satellite signals come in
two types, Ku-Band (75cm dish required)
and C-Band (at least a 120cm dish
required). Many of the international
channels available in North America are
broadcast in Ku (pronounced "kay-you")
on the Intelsat 5 satellite (formerly
called Telstar 5). But others are
available. See the growing number of
Ku-Band channels: Ku-Band
come with a satellite receiver (the box
inside the house) and a remote control
as well as a dish that points at only
one satellite. If you find that you
want to look at more than one Ku-Band
satellite, you may purchase a
Satellite Dish Motor (it moves to
look at many satellites,
automatically). Still, another solution
to viewing channels from multiple ku-band
a Toroidal Satellite Dish.
Toroidal, combined with a
DiSEqC switch makes for quick
switching between channels. All of these
systems are relatively easy to install,
providing you have the right tools and
some mechanical ability.
If you find yourself wanting to watch a
channel that's broadcast on a C-Band
includes a 120cm dish that will receive
signals from the stronger C-Band
C-Band AND Ku-Band channels from many