Philadelphia politician takes aim at satellite dishes

Apparently, some city officials can't see the blight for the satellite dishes. In Philadelphia, a city plagued by urban blight--like ancient rowhomes that collapse into public streets and rampant graffiti--City Councilman Darrell Clark wants to see less of satellite dishes because they're ugly.

"This is a reasonable approach to maintaining ... the aesthetics of our city," said Clarke who has introduced a bill into city council that requires property owners to either move dishes off front facades or provide written documentation why no other less obvious location works just as well. Those with inactive dishes would be required to pull them down.

DirecTV and Dish, of course, are expected to put up a nasty fight if this thing goes through, no doubt citing the 1996 FCC ruling that prohibits satellite dish placement restrictions. If it does pass, with or without the fight, it will mark Philadelphia as the first major city to pull it off.

Philadelphia is Comcast's hometown. The MSO resides in the largest building in the city and is probably the biggest employer. Right now Comcast is also way more popular in Philadelphia than satellite, because it holds the broadcasting rights to three major league teams--the Flyers, Phillies and 76ers--as well as Big Five basketball. It won't share those rights with satellite providers, citing a "terrestrial loophole" in government regulations. How long that will last is in question, since the FCC in January told Comcast to let go of the programming. If that day ever comes and the dishes can receive local teams, it's estimated there might be another 450,000 or so of them in the city.

It's not as if DirecTV is going away anyway. The satellite service has entered into a contract with Space Systems/Loral for a "20 kilowatt spacecraft that will use Ka-band and Reverse DBS to expand the company's video services," according to a news release.

For more:
- see this story
- and this news release

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