Not in Comcast’s Backyard

Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been around for a while, obviously, but that hasn’t prevented the City of Philadelphia from passing a bill last fall to limit installation of satellite dishes. As Philly is Comcast’s corporate home, I’m not surprised.

It should come as no surprise that the SBCA is preventing the law’s enforcement, according to a report by the Philadelphia Daily News:

Enforcement of a bill passed by City Council last fall to regulate placement of TV satellite dishes has been stalled due to a petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by the satellite-dish industry.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association is fighting the bill, approved in October and sponsored by current Council President Darrell Clarke, prohibiting satellite-dish companies and installers from placing dishes at the front of homes unless putting them elsewhere would cause signal reduction or significant extra cost.

A petition filed in November by the association, and pending before the FCC, alleges that the bill violates a 1996 over-the-air reception-device rule that blocks restrictions of satellite-dish installations without a public-safety concern or historic-preservation justification.

“We feel that it isn’t just a matter of taste, but a matter of fairness,” said Lisa McCabe, the association’s director of public policy and outreach. “It’s a burden. It would increase the costs of doing business in the city and would ultimately fall on the users.”

The city’s two major dish companies, DirecTV and Dish Network, argue that the city uses “aesthetic concerns as a pretext to restrict consumers’ access to satellite television.”

But the city disagrees.

“There’s no consideration,” said William Carter, Clarke’s director of legislative affairs. “We simply ask that they don’t do in our community what they wouldn’t do in theirs.

“We were noticing a disparity in areas of the city inundated with satellite dishes. You don’t see this in Chestnut Hill, Society Hill,” Carter said, adding that more dishes are seen in areas with more renters.

Philly has more than 100,000 dish users and was the first city to pass such a measure.

Under the bill, dishes installed in the future must match the colors of homes, and hundreds of inactive dishes will be removed.

I doubt Philly will get its way. People simply refuse to pay higher rates for TV entertainment, and urban neighborhoods with a high concentration of new immigrants will always opt for satellite TV service and their international programming options. I’ve seen more satellite antennas in cities than ever before. You can’t argue with popular preference.

How about above-ground cables and wires strung from utility poles? Now that’s ugly!


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply