Boston City Council “Wicked OTAHD-ed”

According to this article, the City of Boston is considering banning or otherwise regulating the placement of DBS receiver dishes. The article reports that in a number of places these have become real eye sores, especially where a tenant moves out and just leaves the dish. Also, DBS comapnies are increasingly puting dishes in windows rather than all the way on roofs, and are generally not that concerned with keeping the neighborhood looking pretty.

Nevertheless, after the trouncing the FCC gave Massport last month over OTARD, this is pretty silly. Or, as those of us from Boston might say “wicked OTAHDed.”

Now there are ways the City can try to deal with the esthetic problems. For example, it could mandate that landlords permit use of rooftops for DBS providers (one big problem is often that landlords sign exclusive deals with incumbent cable operators, so only tennants with a southern exposure window can subscribe). Or Boston might require that any tenant that terminates DBS service remove the dish or who moves must remove the receiver dish. The city could probably require that if a DBS or other provider comes to install a dish and finds a “dead dish” connected to the residence, the DBS provider must remove it (I’m a little leary of this one because it imposes additional costs on the DBS provider and therefore may be preempted by federal law).

These are just ideas off the top of my head, so they may not be plausible. If the City of Boston wants some help, I recommend the Boston University Law School Legislative Drafting Clinic (of which I am an alum). But I hope they resist the urge to just pass something stupid that a federal judge will smack down in five minutes. That never helps anyone, and is especially irritating when taking a bit of time and effort to get it right can save everyone some grief down the road.

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. Well, while not in Boston, I live right nearby.

    My tenants asked if they could get a dish mounted. I told them that I could not, legally, prevent it. They were surprised both by the fact, and the admission. 🙂

    I handled it as best I could – I asked if they could please let me consult on where it might be placed, if there were multiple choices, and that they have it removed before they move out. They seemed inclined to agree. I also mentioned that we are wired with THREE cable-ish providers (Comcast, RCN and Verizon FIOS) and within distance of a central office for DSL.

    So far, no dish. 🙂

  2. The FCC has a (new and) execellent web page covering the OTARD rules, including FAQ, links to the relevant orders and the Rule, and “Guidance on Filing a Petition”.

    IMHO, Boston is crazy to even consider.

Comments are closed