Broadcast: Satellite TV & Radio

Communications satellites orbit far above the Earth’s surface and are able to transmit television, radio and even some long-distance telephone signals around the curve of the Earth between distant locations on the Earth’s surface. 

The first live Trans-Atlantic satellite program was broadcast in the U.S. and Europe via the communications satellite, Telstar, on July 23, 1962.  Two years later, the opening ceremonies of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games were broadcast live back to the U.S. via satellite.  For the first time ever, live programming was being made available to audiences around the globe.  This represented a massive leap in innovation and changed the way viewers could see the world around them and it was all because of satellites.

Uses of Broadcast Communications Satellites

Over the past six decades, communications satellites have been used to broadcast news, sports, concerts and other programming live as events happened.  Today, broadcast communications satellites continue to benefit consumers in the U.S. and around the world as global video channels, broadcast by satellites, are received by both cable and broadcast networks.  Other communications satellite services include:

  • Onsite Live News Reports – Since 1983, satellite news gathering trucks have allowed reporters the ability send live news reports from remote locations. The satellite truck is equipped with a satellite dish antenna which is pointed at a communications satellite. The truck takes the video feed from the remote reporter and sends the signal back to the television studio or production facility via satellite where the video and audio is prepared for broadcast.
  • Satellite Television – Video channels broadcast by satellite are also received by Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) or Direct-to-Home (DTH) companies which use satellites to deliver TV channels directly to the homes of service provider subscribers that are equipped with a satellite dish and home receiver.
  • Satellite Radio – Satellites may also be used by a satellite radio provider to broadcast audio channels with news, sports and entertainment programming to customers at home, work or in vehicle in both rural and urban centers.

Photo credit: Leonard Zhukovsky /