Satellite Dishes Still Forbidden in China

To be honest, I am frustrated that I cannot install a satellite dish to receive foreign programs like CNN, NBC in my home. It is explicit illegal to use it at home.

The State Council issued a decree in 1993 saying only hotels, media outlets, and apartment buildings housing foreigners are allowed to use satellite dishes. It seems the ban is out of date since any one can access or via Internet to get the lastest report, if they are not blocked by the Great Firewall at that time.

“The object of the system is to ensure stable social order and the right direction for cultural and ideological progress; it is also expected to help foster our own radio and TV industry” said Hu Zhanfan, deputy director of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) in a recent interview with China Central Television, according to Shanghai Star.

Many people in my residential garden installed the dishes one or two years ago. From outside the building, I see the small dish pointing to the sky clearly. No one ever tried to say any word about it. I get one or two flyers advertising to install satellite dishes everyday in my mailbox (physical mailbox in my house). They offer the dish at 3000 RMB to 6000 RMB. Price varis according to the satellite you choose.

The regulation itself does not make sense. Just like the ICP filing regulation. My site is still illegal since I haven’t registered it at the communication adminstration. Also, I don’t want to pay the 510 RMB registration fee in addition to my hosting/domain name fee. I dont’ want to hire a people with a “security expert certification”. I don’t want to hire another two decidated persons to monitor the comment system. I also don’t want to shutdown the site for two months and wait for the filing to be approved. Even if I get registered, my site still breaks the regulation since this site contains links to site that is not registered. Refer to My Site Remains Illegal in Chian for details.

The Satellite Dish ban is facing the same situation. The rule itself is not realistic so it is not enforced. Then the rule becomes a rule that can be broken….

23 thoughts on “Satellite Dishes Still Forbidden in China

  1. I am an American citizen and I have a satellite dish. I can watch CNN and NBC if I choose.

    However, I applaud the Chinese government for anything they do to prevent the American media from infecting your citizens. I am not a socialist or a communist, but I would argue that the television from America is not at all conducive to intelligent and fair thought. It’s pure garbage designed to get you addicted so you’ll sit through the commercial breaks and buy products from the sponsors.

    American Television is trash. You are fortunate that you do not have to endure it.

  2. I don’t see myself an ethnocentric American, but isn’t that what all TV is about? A medium to deliver advertisements, and if it wasn’t addictive it wouldn’t make much sense as a business model. If you take another look at Chinese television it is much the same, some may even argue that it is worse with the plethora of nightly “kung fu soap opera” serials which end with cliffhangers enticing you to tune in tomorrow for the resolution. Excessive advertising ran so rampant that the government had to step in and limit advertisements to 12 minutes per hour (9 in prime time), while this will help it shows that there has been a problem with TV ads in China. Either way I’m not a big fan of either Chinese or American TV shows (If anything, I prefer news, sports, and movie channels).

  3. This kind of law is just to give them the right to enforce it any time they want even though it seems to be broken most of time…

    Someone said once that the society is like a person while the law is like person’s clothes. The person needs the clothes in order not to get cold. But China society is a kid who is growing so fast that no clothes seems to fit. So sometime the kid gets cold, but he is still growing without suitable clothes…

    At least you can still run the this site and criticize the system at the moment :-)

  4. So as an American citizen living in China, am I allowed to have Satellite dish? Oh well, even if it is illegal, I will get one. I need my fix of Sex and the City, Soprano… :-)

  5. “China is a kid who is growing so fast that no clothes seems to fit”

    They are candid words.

    But that’s still a problem, if always no suitble clothes, always catching cold, the kid is getting sick. Long way to the real grown-up.

  6. To install a dish to watch CNN, BBC, ABC , HBO , Discovery …., totally 56 channels, only cost you a little more than 1000 RMB.

  7. I saw all your comments above. I am very happy about the changes in China that happens in the year of 2003. With SARS, the government is changing the way to talk with the citizens. Information disclosure becomes better. With the case of Sun Zhigang, the rights of citizens are strengthened. Most importantly, media began to put critisim articles and it is allowed. I do not feel pressure to publish articles like this on my personal blog since I don’t think I can get (big) trouble for posting this. This is progress…. I love to witness the progress…. I wish the country becomes better. This should begin with a more transparent government and free of speech.

  8. George, I don’t know whether you are allowed to install even if you are a foreigner. I believe it is based on building, instead of the nationality of individual. If you live in a building that has the permit to install – because all residents in the building are foreigners or other reasons, you are allowed to do it.

    Besides this regulation, since the satellite company installs pirated decode card so you can watch TV without paying the TV company. For this reason, I don’t like these companies and won’t give you the contact information here. But you can always go out and search…

  9. I just installed a dish and now I can receive cctv4 and cctv9 at home. My mum is very happy now to be able to follow up the news backhome and some TV serials. I heard that from my friends that it is still OFFICIALLY banned in China, well if you put your dish not so visiable from outside, nobody will trouble you, but be warned, THEY ARE titled to ask you stop using it anytime and for further legal or finacial punishment.

  10. I just read an article about how controlled (forbidden) internet access is at the moment in Cuba:

    Some excerpts in case the link doesn’t work:

    “Cuba tightened its controls over the Internet on Friday, prohibiting access over the low-cost government phone service most ordinary citizens have at home.”


    “The law states that the move is necessary to “regulate dial-up access to Internet navigation service, adopting measures that help protect against the taking of passwords, malicious acts, and the fraudulent and unauthorized use of this service.”

    I’d love to post the whole article, because I think your readers would be quite interested, but that doesn’t seem right to do in the comments of someone else’s blog.

    Anyway, even if you are being deprived, for now, of what Michael above referred to as “trash television”, it’s good to know that at least some of your current freedoms (like the freedom for us to have this kind of conversation!) represent real progress.

  11. Hello,

    My name is Pablo Garcia and I am doing a research project on Nickelodeon Asia. I have been trying to find estimates for the prevalence of these unauthorized satellite receivers in China. Are you aware of any guesses or estimates I could use in publishing this report?



  12. I have been living in China for over 3 years now (I am American) and have lived in Jinan, Qingdao and now Wuxi. When I arrived in Wuxi over a year and a half ago I bought a satellite tv system (DREAM TV) and had it installed at my apartment. It is great. But now I’m moving to a new apartment building, a beautiful and modern facility but they are giving me some hassle about installing the dish. OMG… so frustrating.

  13. Is it easier to install the satellite dishes in those new xiaoqu like Vanke housing than in those oldr ones where the Residents COmmittee or juwei will ask you to take down.

  14. I help a local satellite TV company for their marketing, and my guess is less than 3% of all satellite dishes installed in Shanghai are legit. So that would be the case for Nickelodeon too.


  15. @Jian Shuo,

    You are not missing much. There are a lot of trash on American TV.

    You missing “The Bold and the Beautiful” or what ?

    The news are not that accurate either. Every network has it’s bias.

    On the plus side, you get to see it from different angles and decide for yourself.


    Fox News is not news.

    PBS is probabily the only thing worth watching.

    Playboy is good for inspiration !

  16. ARTICLE QUOTED: “”The object of the system is to ensure stable social order and the right direction for cultural and ideological progress; it is also expected to help foster our own radio and TV industry” said Hu Zhanfan, deputy director of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) in a recent interview with China Central Television, according to Shanghai Star.”

    What is strange and funny is that why does the Chinese governemnt needs such an ugly, awful system like censorship, harrassment dictatorial-style laws, bullying critics, online crimes like hacking Google accounts of human rights activists, killing pro-democracy protestors at Tianamen Square, banning satelite dishes in order to keep Chinese society more stable and safer??? How can this awful system make the Chinese society move in the right direction and make it more develope??? If the Chinese system is good then why doesn’t other developed democratic nations need this awful system to keep their society stable? Doesn’t censorship would ruin the country’s image more and keeping its people ignorant??? Misinforming and not informing the people to keep the society more stable and safer is just silly. O.O

    Wow! Come on! It is just a satelite dish and not a bomb or a weapon. No one is going to hit some jack-ass in the head with a satelite dish in Kung Fu style. How can the Chinese government fear the satelite dish so much to the point that they had to totally ban it? Very funny!

    The fact is that only non-democratic countries or countries that have problem with people’s freedom and basic rights and open media would need such an ugly, awful system to keep their society stable. There is no doubt that China is a country ruled by evil rich dictators who does not allow people with opposing views.

    Chinese government is such a joke. Period.

  17. It’s a Satelite Dish!!!!!!!!!!! And it’s for you! Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!

    Of course that it is not a bomb! Lol!

  18. I have no problem installing a satellite dish for English study years before,i am Chinese living on Chinese soil,some of these channels are so wonderful and the only problem with it is that I have little time watching it.

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