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March 2007 Newsletter

In January 2007, the SBCA Board of Directors approved the creation of the Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee (RAAC).  The RAAC’s primary function is to evaluate and recommend strategies and goals to increase the effectiveness of the SBCA’s public policy agenda.

The RAAC also serves as the umbrella committee to the Regulatory Affairs Department, overseeing the activities of the Licensing, Electrical Safety, and OTARD Subcommittees.  The RAAC is comprised of key individuals from member companies and Lori Kalani, EchoStar Communications, L.L.C., was appointed as Chair at the initial meeting.  Each member brings sufficient experience and insight to assist the Regulatory Affairs Department in identifying emerging trends and issues within the satellite industry.

DTV Transition

As mandated by the FCC, on February 17, 2009, television stations, nationwide, will terminate broadcasting on their current analog channels and fully convert to digital signals.  Consumers who solely rely on outside antennas and “rabbit ears” to receive broadcast signals will need to obtain a separate digital-to-analog converter box for television viewing.  These converter boxes will receive digital signals and convert them into analog format for display on analog television sets.

Digital Television (DTV) is a new broadcasting technology that will change the future of television viewing.  DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with movie-quality picture and sound.  TV stations serving all markets in the US are currently airing digital television programming to support the transition from analog to DTV. 

To help further educate the public on this issue, the SBCA has begun working closely with the DTV Transition Coalition.  The Coalition was formed by the National Association of Broadcasters and includes various organizations from the telecommunications sector.

Legislative Update

The SBCA continues to closely monitor several states that have introduced licensing legislation.  Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, and Vermont have introduced legislation that would create new electricians licensing schemes, while Wyoming has introduced legislation that clarifies existing licensing requirements.  The SBCA is also watching The City of Philadelphia carefully.  The City Council is expected to hold a hearing this month to discuss city level electrical licensing legislation.  In response, the SBCA has submitted a letter of opposition and is working closely with like-minded associations.

Grassroots Hero:  Tom O’Brien

Standing six feet, ten inches, Tom O’Brien is unofficially the “tallest man in the satellite industry.”  Through dedication and expertise, he has impacted the satellite industry in an incredibly positive way.   

After attending the University of Hartford on a basketball scholarship, O’Brien went to work in cable. After working in the cable industry for nine years, O‘Brien took a giant leap of faith and accepted a job with a small VSAT group in New York City.  In the early 90s the satellite industry was still very new to the scene, with cable having a virtual monopoly on multi-channel services.  Through diligence and hard work, O’Brien landed a job with PRIMESTAR Partners in 1993.  While working with PRIMESTAR, O’Brien began working closely with the SBCA and their engineering group.  At the time, PRIMESTAR was “the other” Direct-to-Home Satellite Service, and was later acquired by DIRECTV in 1998, where O’Brien has worked ever since.

O’Brien has been an active grassroots leader with the SBCA.  He works diligently to ensure his technicians are SBCA certificated; as the Field Operations Managers and the 15,000 technicians working for DIRECTV are required to be certified by the SBCA.  “This is one area of our business that I promote and follow up on regularly,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien is currently the Senior Field Operations Manager for DIRECTV covering the Northeastern United States.  Since October, 2005 he has served as the Licensing Subcommittee Chair.  The Licensing Subcommittee was established to evaluate and implement strategies to protect the interests of the satellite industry on the state and local level.  O’Brien hopes to continue reinforcing the mission of the Licensing Subcommittee and its increasing membership to support the effort.

Simple Facts About OTARD

The OTARD rule prohibits restrictions that impair installation, maintenance or use of antennas.
Fun Fact About Washington, DCThe district is named after Christopher Columbus and George Washington.

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