SARFT Outlaws Shanzhai Satellite Dishes, Chinese Reactions

Shanzhai satellite dishes are unapproved satellite receivers often seen in rural areas where cable television is not available; it is also prevalent in lower-tier cities as the cost of cable television is often too expensive for the average consumer. The recent decree from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) outlawing shanzhai satellite dishes was met with general disapproval, with some netizens posting pictures of their dishes hidden or disguised to avoid being discovered.

From iFeng:

On the afternoon of April 7th, The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) issued on its official website, “The Provisional Law Regarding Servicing/Installation of Satellite Broadcast Ground Receivers” (The 60th decree) or (“Procedure”), stringently regulating the installation and complementary care of Satellite dishes such as repairs and satellite programming service ground proxies, in addition to the right to receive such services.

Cannot provide services to users of “shanzhai dishes”

The SARFT issued “Procedure” pointed out, any direct broadcast satellite providers cannot provide programs to users of shanzhai dishes; receiving outside/foreign programs require the authorization from the SARFT and other agencies under the State Council.

This “Procedure” proposed that the establishments responsible for the installation/servicing of ground satellite receivers must follow what was stated in the “ground satellite receivers installation and servicing permit,” concerning the type of service, the area of service, in operating and servicing ground satellite receivers.

In addition, a SARFT-affiliated representative stated during a media interview that the establishments responsible for the installation/servicing of ground satellite receivers should accept the will of the agencies in charge of satellite programing, to implement satellite programming service ground proxies, and activities authorizing receiving of programs. Satellite program providers should not without first receiving the “Ground satellite receiver installation and servicing permit,” providing satellite companies ground proxies and authority to receive programs.

The representative responsible also stated that service for ground receiving satellite dishes of customers receiving external programs, along with digital film theaters and other special privilege users will be provided by agencies related to the SARFT under the state council.

“Satellite dishes” should not enter circulation in the market

Regarding the relationship between ground receiving satellite installation/servicing companies and ground receiving manufactures, SARFT representative when responding to the media pointed out, satellite dishes should not enter circulation in the market.

Related representative pointed out, between companies responsible for the installation/servicing of ground receiving manufactures, apart from legal sales operations, there cannot be any other interests, and satellite ground receivers cannot enter circulation in the market.

At the same time, The “Procedure” ordered the related sales and repair centers, that either side through mutual trust, agents, and other means of cooperation to establish that ground satellite receiver manufactures will not independently operate or become stockholders.

The “Procedure” required, ground receiving satellite installation/servicing companies should require customers to provide legal certificate for purchase, in order to provide ground receiving satellite installation and service.

In addition, The “Procedure” required: the installation of ground satellite receivers should be from legal installation/service providers, with [satellites] stocked from legal ground satellite receiver manufactures; during importation, it should inspect if it is marked with the National standard approval markings, along with the equivalent documentation from provincial, autonomous region, and special economic zone branches of the SARFT.

Possibility of affecting the interest of average people

According to reports, the reason why the SARFT issued this “procedure” was due to the long-standing issue of “shanzhai dish” in China.

In reality, the SARFT had in the past, on numerous occasions, using news conferences and new regulations, along with [satellite] signal upgrades and many other methods to stem the proliferation of “shanzhai dishes” on the market, but never achieved any significant results.

But scholars pointed out, SARFT’s method to strike down on the current illegal operations of satellite television, at the same time, may also harm the interests of the average people.

According to statistics, around the nation there are nearly 40 million illegal satellite ground receiver systems. Prior to this [regulation], as a result of updates to Chinasat-9 Satellite many farmers in isolated areas who were using “shanzhai dish” to watch TV, for some time were unable to receive programming; heavily affecting the lives and the productivity of these farmers.

This scholar pointed out, the 40 million shanzhai dish users are mostly farmers or people living in remote areas, and given their salary, the choice for “shanzhai dish” is obvious.

At the same time, netizens pointed out, television is becoming an important entertainment source for rural folks, but because [of this new rule] rural folks may return to “primitive society” without entertainment, moreover, they already spent the money on “shanzhai dishes”.

The above mentioned scholar considered that the so-called problem of the “shanzhai dish” had already persisted for a long time, it relates to the issue of manufacture supervision, intellectual property, and the relationship between producers and consumers, and it shouldn’t be targeted solely on the consumers. To the average people shanzhai dish is a product, although in the field of economic it is looked down upon, but in an environment where shanzhai dish is prevalent, it remains a debatable topic as to who should be punished for it.

Comments on iFeng:

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北京市网友 口粮:

Good thing they didn’t confiscate food dishes.

江苏省苏州市网友 shiyingmeng:

My hometown is in the valley of Guizhou, only have a few households, it was so hard to just buy a TV for the family, without shanzhai dishes what will we watch? Surely you can’t let my parents be cut off from the outside world??sadangry

陕西省西安市网友 麦穗黄了:

I as a migrant worker probably won’t have TV to watch in the future, in the past I can still reroute cable TV from the landlord, but now it require cable boxes, I won’t have TV on April 20th, so pitiful.

山西省太原市网友 hunterdq:

What kind of department is the SARFT? Do they have the legal authority?

广东省佛山市网友 leyouyou:

Why are there shanzhai [satellite] dishes?
1. In the countryside, there are only one or two channels. And they are all the local propaganda channels, with many trashy advertisements. Many Farmers want to enrich their lives by watching less trashy commercials, and more entertainment programming.
2. Although some villages can bring in cable TV. But, can they afford it? To lay cables into [villages] is extremely costly, and they have to pay monthly fees. Given the income of farmers, can they afford it?
3. Some areas cable TV is very expensive. Like areas in Guangdong, changing analogue TV into digital TV, which increased the cost from 17 yuan/month to 26 Yuan/month. The TV station remained the same, and the programming remained the same, while the quality still remains unclear/blurry. Just by changing the name “cable TV” to “digital TV” they can charge 10 yuan more.

湖北省武汉市网友 aimm:

Satellites are sent to space using tax-payers money, why can’t the greater public use the cheap and efficient satellite dish?

From NetEase:

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The battle for shanzhai satellite dishes, look at how creative people challenges SARFT

April 6th, the SARFT issued the “Provisional Law Regarding Servicing/Installation of Satellite Broadcast Ground Receivers”, outlining strict regulation toward satellite ground receivers (satellite dish), while stressing that shanzhai dishes cannot enter circulation on the market. But in the market one can discover, not only did shanzhai dish not disappear from sight due to this [new regulation], but the new “3rd generation” shanzhai dish with the ability to automatically upgrade are becoming hot selling items.

“Can receive 48 satellite channels, what alternative is there to shanzhai dishes”

A boss selling shanzhai dishes said: “I am using “3rd generation” shanzhai dish. Compared to “1st and 2nd generation,” “3rd generation” shanzhai dish’s most famous feature is that it can update automatically. In terms of price, “3rd generation” shanzhai dishes only cost 20-30 Yuan more. Although, if you want to buy a “3rd generation” shanzhai dish, you must preorder in advance, because it can update automatically, its quality is very good, the supply is very scarce.

Due to the last too satellite update, causing “1st and 2nd generation” shanzhai dish to be blocked, therefore many shanzhai dish retailers can provide upgrade service, or even “resurrect” your dish.

Comments on NetEase:


Long live the people’s war!


Nowadays small [satellite] dishes won’t work anymore, can’t receive many channels, still have to buy bigger [satellite] dishes, only a little more expensive than this one.


Chinese people can really inherit the previous generation’s revolutionary tradition and fighting spirit…long live the Chinese people…defeat all oppressive powers.


I am from the countryside, although I can say I’m earning money now, but whenever I go back to my hometown, and look around, it is not what I imagined it to be; the common people’s lives are not easy, need money here and there. Low level officials no longer care about people’s feelings. I support 3rd generation [satellite] dishes.


Trash SARFT’s programs are awful as hell
Even make you install a cable box, fuck
Shanzhai dish is so much better…can even watch many foreign TV
Celestial kingdom is always afraid the people will see the negative side of things…


A chameleon?


Where there is oppression, there will be retaliation——– [quote from Mao].


Really talented,the disguise is perfect!
The People’s Liberation Army should learn from you guys!


Long live the people…oppose all monopolies, defeat all oppression.


Can anyone watch cable TV? So disgusting, I still like the internet.


Now this is what strong is! [“strong” here means something like “flippant, hypocritical, arrogant”]

[The above pictures shows many satellite dishes in the courtyards of the SARFT branch in Mengzi County.]

Better than watching television. chinaSMACK personals.

Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai

  • Simon

    Looks like they’re getting SARFted..

    Come on people.

  • Dish Jockey


  • cdn icehole

    LOL…love the paint jobs to hide them from the authorities.

    • Maybe this is what I should do with that art degree? ;-)


    Are they trying to censor foreign media or are they just greedy for money?

  • aclcla

    some of those pictures are most definitely not in asia

    • And how can you tell? A lot of upscale suburban developments in China mimic Western construction styles.

      In any case, if there’s a blatant location giveaway, I must have missed it.

    • HaWu (AKA bleah)

      You are so correct, aclcla! Everone knows Asiates only live in pagodas!

      • aclcla

        oh right, hawu, thanks for reminding me haha.

        but yeah, the windows and the aged fence (and fence style) and the vegetation in a couple of the pictures are not found in china.

        just figured i’d comment on it…

        • pepsi_cola

          Don’t know about that. Last time I was there, there were resort villages where they copied an entire Dutch Village, building by building.

          • Snicker

            Including the camouflaged satellite dishes!

  • Clever camouflage

    Hilariously clever techniques…FTW

  • wow, lazy person hiding dish with shirt, instead of painting it.

  • more satellites

    more information

    more freedom

    • The Chinese people don’t deserve any of the three

      In a country of 1.3 billion there isn’t one person brave enough to cut the throat of a corrupt bureaucrat, that’s just pitiful.

      • cdn icehole

        well…if you’re so brave, why don’t you avenge the deaths of the Cheonan crew? I’m sure your victory will be mentioned in the intermission of a NHL playoff game.

        • Because that’s exactly what they want us to do, the DPRK want to start a continuous low level conflict so the leaders can whip everyone up into a war frenzy and consolidate their power.

          Neither side wants a full scale war but if we strike back by bombing a nuclear site or something like that, they’ll sneak some commandos over the boarder, then well bomb something else, then they’ll do something else, etc.

          The result would be a politically stronger Kim family, a crappy stockmarket and some idiot like Jimmy Carter lecturing Koreans when he should just mind his own fucking business that stupid cunt. We played this game with the commies back in the 60’s and 70’s, it accomplished nothing.

          • I’m genuinely curious about what your thoughts are over the current handling of the sunken ship incident.

          • roasted turkey

            so your “brave” solution is to sit and be quiet? instead of “cut the throat of the Kimmie regime? just as pitiful, don’t you think?

          • C&N

            meow! pussy!

            i got a suggestion for the south korean people. your plastic surgery skills are among the top in the world. change a dozen army commandos into kim jong and top brass lookalikes and sneak them across the border. have a shock army of obamas and arnies in reserve in case plan A fails.

          • What do we have to prove to them? Ultimately we are rich and powerful and they are starving brainwashed idiots. When you’re rich and free it sometimes makes sense to be a little bit cowardly in order to preserve yourself. The ROK is both and China is neither.

          • Hongjian

            No. You South Koreans just fucking SUCK.

            North Korea is BEST KOREA, is not just a silly internet-meme, but the sad truth.
            Gooks who dont have the balls to troll the rest of the world, unlike those masters up in the north, because they rather suck americunt cocks are really pathetic.

            Hell, even non-countries like Belgium and Slovakia are manlier than this shit. At least they produce worthwhile porn.

          • cdn icehole

            The attempts in the 60’s and 70’s may have accomplished nothing but what about now. Don’t tell me that South Korea hasn’t put much effort into modernizing their military.

            As for the financial problem, “no pain, no gain”. It’s better in the long run. South Korea should just finish the DPRK off themselves without the US or the world actively participating. Getting foreign nations supplying arms is one thing; getting foreign troops to die for the ROK is another.

            S.Korea doesn’t have to prove anything. It’s called finishing the fight. I’ve read some articles that ROK should already have that ability.

            Rich and free justify non-action?! Are you kidding? The US is free and was rich a few years ago (they’ll be back in a few years). Yet they are not afraid to get into a tussle.

  • Bakery

    What are the chances this law will be enforced?
    I mean, I’m sure there are road rules and food service industry hygiene regulations too…

    • Alikese

      A friend of mine in China opened up a pizza joint so I asked him about what he had to do to pass the health code inspections. “Give the guy a free pizza.” Was the official response.

  • pengyou

    Satellite dishes are forbidden to prevent people from watching uncontrolled news.

  • DWR

    For some reason, I’m reminded of the episode of the Simpsons where the old man is sitting in the nursing home and trying to change channel:

    “Two hundred channels, and nothing but cats.”


  • C

    Can someone explain to me why they’re not allowed? I read, but didn’t understand completely…

  • Bitter Expat

    These are fucking brilliant! Power to the people! I went to China one summer and most stations were absolute rubbish, no wonder people want to watch foreign channels.

  • fireworks

    Doubt the government will lower the price for quality programming. Shanzhai technologies are innovative and ease the growing gap between the rich and poor. good stuff.

  • elenore

    I remember,people in the 80’s having huge dishes that would pick up channels from many countries then Cable and Dish Companies scrambled channels and now that it’s digital even public stations you have to buy equipment.Enjoy the T.V. before corporate overlords take over and ruin entertainment for the masses.I never understood why it matters,the channels make money from Ads and more people watching Ads the better but companies like AT%T and ComCRAP paid off politicians and force us to pay high rates for T.V.Fight Corporate Take over the air waves belong to the public.we use to alternate companies to try and get fair prices but they are price fixing so now you end up getting the same price.

  • shw

    Most of those who install these dishes are for entertainment purposes, so what wrong with legalizing it ? There is no purpose in banning and controlling everything just because there is 1-2 bad hats in a million !! If the authorities have issues with these 1-2 bad hats then think of a more efficient method to do it. After all you are paid for it. By imposing restrictions on the millions is just being irresponsible… Don’t blame others when you can’t do your job well just like our Shenzhen Chief of Police mentality _ all unemployed for more than 3 months are trouble makers !! This is not Public Management, it is being IRRESPONSIBLE to the people who paid your wages !

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