Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, May 26, 2006

City wants to move your Dish

I woke up this morning to a post in our local message boards that said “Forget about the Dish TV”. At first, I thought it was going to be a discussion on how TiVo  is trying to get an injunction against EchoStar to have them disable DVR functions on all Dish Network boxes. (More Info)

Instead, it was about a junior council woman in Schenectady NY, promoting a law that would required satellite dishes to be removed or moved to back yards. It's bad enough when small housing communities try to enforce such restrictions but an entire city is too much.  It's especially ironic for Schenectady, the test tube of television.  Local inventor Ernst Alexanderson was responsible for making the old home antenna part of our 20th century landscape.

Many of you probably haven't stopped to realize that the satellite dish is a modern day compass. They actually helped me find my way once in London after my buddy Tim got us lost.

Consumer TV or Direct Broadcast Satellites are Geo-stationary.  This means they circle the earth at the same speed as the earth itself so they're always in the same position.  They also revolve around the earth at the same height, directly over the equator.

What the means is, all your dishes are going to be pointing in the southernly direction. (or north if you live in the southern hemisphere)   In Schenectady they're just a little south-west but it means if the back of your house doesn't have a southern view,  no dish for you!

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Blogger Nick said...

They can't do that because it conflicts with the FCC fact sheet regarding satellite dishes. From the FCC page it says:

The rule prohibits restrictions that impair a person's ability to install, maintain, or use an antenna covered by the rule. The rule applies to state or local laws or regulations, including zoning, land-use or building regulations, private covenants, homeowners' association rules, condominium or cooperative association restrictions, lease restrictions, or similar restrictions on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has an ownership or leasehold interest in the property. A restriction impairs if it: (1) unreasonably delays or prevents use of; (2) unreasonably increases the cost of; or (3) precludes a person from receiving or transmitting an acceptable quality signal from an antenna covered under the rule. The rule does not prohibit legitimate safety restrictions or restrictions designed to preserve designated or eligible historic or prehistoric properties, provided the restriction is no more burdensome than necessary to accomplish the safety or preservation purpose.

If the town want to try to pass or enforce this nonsense you can call the FCC. Your sattellite provider will also have info regarding this that they can pass along.

Q: Who do I call if my town, community association or landlord is enforcing an invalid restriction?

A: Call the Federal Communications Commission at (888) CALLFCC (888-225-5322), which is a toll-free number, or 202-418-7096, which is not toll-free. Some assistance may also be available from the direct broadcast satellite company, broadband radio service provider, television broadcast station, or fixed wireless company whose service is desired.

About the only real way you aren't protected by this FCC ruling is if you rent property and the landlord restricts you. No local or state government can overule the FCC, so this town law is dead before it gets a chance to pass.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Nick awsome information.

"The rule does not prohibit legitimate safety restrictions or restrictions designed to preserve designated or eligible historic or prehistoric properties, provided the restriction is no more burdensome than necessary to accomplish the safety or preservation purpose."

Unfortunately the junior councilperson who is behind this issue is very involved with historic preservation. Her latest manuver regarding preservation is to designate Historic "Looking" buildings. This is different than the building being historic, she wants to designat them historic if they even begin to look historic. I can see her winning on getting a legislation passed but I wonder how the Satellite TV companies will react to this. This will impact their sales considerably.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Historical concerns can be a way to restrict dishes, but it has to be real history and not something that looks old. There has to be real history involved to qualify. One example I know of is Colonial Williamsburg. CW is a complete reconstruction of early 8th century Williamsburg and a major tourist attraction because of that. So in the colonial area, you can't have dishes. Even if you aren't in the designated area, but are visible from it, you can't have a dish that is visible.

Once you get out of view from the historical area, they can be visible, if you can't get reception. The city of Williamsburg has some very restrictive zoning laws. For example, Walmart was going to build one there, but the city wouldn't allow them to use their standard blue and grey colors. They wanted historical brick and brown colors. Walmart decided the extra cost was too much and didn't build. This was no where near the historical area. If the city could ban dishes, they would, but they can't outside the historical area. They can beat Walmart, dictate what color McDonald's paints their restaurants, and what color the Christmas lights on your house are (they can only be white), but they can't ban a dish.

Definately call Dish and Direct. They'll have plenty of info to help you.

2:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and, there are no other laws that would be beneficial to the people of Schenectady? how ridiculous!

I live in the Town of Rotterdam, city of Schenectady, on a road that I think is the only one that cable isn't even an option, or broadband either. So, for my job I have one satellite for internet, and for TV watching, another one. You can read my letter to the editor tomorrow in the Schdy Gazettw

1:16 PM  

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