Abu Dhabi bans satellite dishes again

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Abu Dhabi’s city authorities are again cracking down on what they describe as “illegal” satellite dishes.

The ruling is designed to improve the city’s visual aesthetics. Local reports say that a building to allowed have a maximum of 4 dishes and these must then distribute their signals to all residents of a apartment block. Dishes are forbidden on apartment balconies, garden fences or walls.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has commenced a widespread use of social media announcing the latest crackdown. The prohibition applies to residential buildings as well as commercial premises.

The ban has been in place since 2015 and is backed by a potential Dirhams 2000 fine (about $545). But previous prohibitions have been largely ignored. One of the problems is rusting and unconnected dishes, or dishes installed by a family who had since moved away.

However, it is also illegal to use dishes to receive signals from satellites targeting India. Signals from Charlie Ergen’s Dish TV or those of Tata/Sky or Bharti Airtel are forbidden and not permitted.

Retailers selling ‘Indian’ system have in the past been fined Dirhams 50,000 and a 3-month jail sentence as well as having stock and smart cards seized. Local pay-TV provider, OSN, has pushed for the rules to be enforced in order to protect its own copyright programming.

But the potential savings for Indian sub-continent expats in the UAE are considerable. An annual Dish TV package with hundreds of channels and including coverage of Indian cricket, for example, costs about Dirhams 250 (about $68), and can be much less than a monthly fee to a UAE pay-TV service.


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