How Satellite Gets to your House
Direct-to-home satellite companies such as DirecTV or Dish Network (Bell ExpressVu or StarChoice in Canada) purchase content just like the cable companies. These satellite companies take the content, bundle it, compress it, encrypt it, (so it can’t be pirated),
then re-transmit it to their satellites, which again re-broadcasts the signal. When the signal reaches the subscriber's satellite dish, the signal is passed to a satellite receiver, which unencrypts and decompresses the signal, then sends it to your TV.
One of the knocks against Direct Broadcast Satellite was that it could not provide local content. That situation is beginning to change for a handful of communities. Satellite providers have begun setting up small local offices, buying content from local stations, and forwarding it onto their broadcast center. The local broadcast is then spot beamed into that community.