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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CS 97-20 CABLE SERVICES ACTION July 22, 1997

CABLE SERVICES BUREAU PREEMPTS LOCAL RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF OVER-THE-AIR-RECEPTION DEVICES IMPOSED BY MEADE, KANSAS


The Cable Services Bureau has preempted an ordinance adopted by the City of Meade, Kansas that restricted the installation and use of satellite dishes. The Bureau found that the ordinance did not comply with the Commission's rule ("Rule") regarding over-the-air reception devices, which implements Section 207 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The Rule prohibits governmental and private restrictions that impair the ability of antenna users to install, maintain, or use satellite dishes and wireless cable antennas that are one meter or smaller in diameter and television signal antennas unless justified by safety or historic preservation considerations. This is the first order issued by the Bureau under the Rule.

Star Lambert and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association ("SBCA") petitioned the Commission for a ruling on Meade's ordinance. Star Lambert owns Stargate Enterprises, which is located in Meade. Stargate sells and installs Primestar satellite antennas, which are direct-to-home satellite antennas measuring one meter or less in diameter. SBCA is a trade association that includes among its members Primestar and other manufacturers, retailers, and distributors of satellite equipment and receiving devices.

The order holds that:

The Rule prohibits the ordinance's requirement that an installer or antenna user obtain (1) a $5.00 permit prior to installation and (2) prior City approval of the antenna's placement. These requirements conflict with the Rule's prohibition of restrictions that unreasonably delay or prevent antenna installation, maintenance, or use that are not required by safety or historic preservation considerations.

The "property setback regulations" in the ordinance regulating antenna placement violate the Rule because they are not described anywhere and therefore impermissibly delay or prevent antenna installation, maintenance and use.

The $500 per day fine provided for in the ordinance is prohibited by the Rule because penalties of this magnitude are likely to deter installation and no justification was given for the amount.

Commenting on the Meade decision, Meredith J. Jones, Chief of the Cable Services Bureau said, "This order strikes a blow for competition and for the consumer. If we cannot prevent unreasonable restrictions on the use of satellite dishes and other receiving antennas, competition in the market for the delivery of multichannel video will be stifled."

Action by the Chief, Cable Services Bureau, July 22, 1997, by Order (DA 97-1554).

--FCC--

News Media Contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-2358
Cable Services Bureau Contacts: Nancy Markowitz, Eloise Gore at (202) 418-7200