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March 19, 2009 Newsletter

- Public Policy Roundup / OTARD Issues

- Company Profile - SatProf

- SBCA Launches On-Line MFH2 Course

- Your Disabled Workforce - Did You Know You Had One?

- Coming Soon: New Member Benefits

Public Policy Roundup

The last several months have been full of activity on the legislative front and the state and local government levels.  Many states convened their legislative sessions in January and hit the ground running by introducing bills on a variety of issues affecting our interests.  A new trend we have seen this legislative season is an effort on the part of state legislatures to regulate the placement of satellite dishes on rental property.  Bills like this have popped up in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Connecticut.  SBCA testified at the hearing in Bismarck with the help of local retailer Travis Johnson and Dish Network Field Services Manager Mark Pearson. We are optimistic that the bill in North Dakota will be defeated but currently it is still pending.  We were able to defeat the bills in South Dakota and Iowa. The bill in Connecticut is still pending and we continue to work toward its defeat. 

A number of other states are looking to the satellite television industry as a new additional source of tax income to fill state budget gaps.  We are also continuing to see cable companies going to states lobbying for tax relief by requesting the state take into account the local franchise fees they pay thus creating a discriminatory situation with DBS.  States that have had activity or may be looking to tax satellite in the future are California, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas. We are happy to report that Governor Patterson of New York announced on March 11th that his proposed budget would no longer include taxes on satellite television and digital goods sold in the state.  We had been battling a potential 5% tax on satellite televisions subscribers in New York for the past three months. 

OTARD Issues

SBCA had worked with both Dish Networks and DirecTV in an attempt to fight the recent passage of an ordinance in Hazleton, Pennsylvania that would require a $10 permit fee for satellite dish placement among other requirements.  SBCA continues to do outreach with city officials to urge them to repeal the ordinance.  Philadelphia City Council currently has a pending ordinance that would prohibit the placement of satellite dishes on the façade of buildings facing the street.  SBCA is working to educate City Council members on this harmful ordinance. 

If you know of any pending ordinances that appear to be violations of the OTARD rules, please do not hesitate to contact SBCA as soon as possible. Gaining information from our members as soon as possible will help us more effectively influence public policy at the state and local levels.  You can contact Lisa McCabe at or through the address.

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Company Profile - SatProf

SatProf, Inc. was founded by satellite industry system engineering veterans to meet the need for accessible training for satellite communications technical professionals.  Our interactive, online training course materials form the backbone of the Global VSAT Forum installer certification program, with over 1800 technicians trained worldwide.  SatProf is now proud to contribute to the SBCA National Standards and Testing Program with the new MFH-2 Certification online course, and coming soon, the MDU/SMATV Essentials online course.

SatProf's unique combination of industry experience, system engineering, Flash programming, and instructional design skills has enabled us to create technically-accurate, interactive learning pages based on the physics of satellite links, antennas, and equipment.  For example, to teach dish pointing, the student turns the bolts and adjusters while watching the motion of the beam across the sky and the behavior of the meter.  SatProf simulates all of these effects accurately in real time using the math and physics equations that govern the behavior of the system.   Our students tell us that SatProf online training is very thorough and highly effective. Students may learn at their own pace and may dwell on any topics they choose as they work through a course. Critical concepts are explained with animation, and simulation-based interactivity gives the student a real "hands on feel."  Quizzes after each lesson and a comprehensive final exam at the conclusion of each course confirm the student's knowledge.  In some courses, hands-on skills are assessed using equipment simulators.  SatProf courses are very accessible, however, as our extensive use of Flash scripting reduces download times dramatically compared to traditional video delivery.

For more information about SatProf, including links to our online learning web sites for GVF and SBCA, please visit us at

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SBCA Launches On-Line MFH2 Course

The SBCA is pleased to announce the launch of its first fully automated on line certification course. The course provides the detailed knowledge required for DIRECTV® MFH2tm multiple-dwelling unit system installation. It represents a comprehensive overview of the MFH2 technology and its installation requirements which is part of the SBCA technical certification series. Certified installers will understand the system components that comprise the MFH2 system and the correct way to install, connect, and adjust them for best service quality to the subscribers. The cost of the on line course is $200, to register go to:

This course was designed by representatives from DIRECTV, PDI-Sat, Mastec Advanced Technologies, Perfect10, Apogee Telecom along with SatProf. SatProf specializes in online, animated interactive training for the satellite community. Students work at their own pace to gain the knowledge they need and practice their skills using numerical simulation of real-world behavior of satellite antennas, links, transmission and test equipment. SatProf interactive training gives satellite professionals the benefits of hands-on experience in a highly explanatory environment.
This course is the first of many on line programs that we will be offering in the future. Technicians can receive more advanced enhanced hands on courses in the areas of MDU/SMATV and MFH2 technologies as these courses will continue to be offered by participating distributors. The hands on aspect will allow students to perform advanced troubleshooting and be eligible for a master technician certification in these respective disciplines. As new technologies are introduced we will be working closely with all of our member companies to create advanced certification courses designed to improve the quality of customer experience. We encourage our members to contact us with any questions or suggestions on future courses.

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Your Disabled Workforce - Did You Know You Had One?
by Eric E. Packel*

Beginning January 1, 2009, satellite companies, like many employers, began employing a large group of formerly legally unprotected employees. Prior to that date, although these employees had physical or mental impairments, they were not “disabled” under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) because of the significant legal burdens placed on them in proving they were “disabled.”  All of that changed when President Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”). 

Background of the ADA

The original ADA was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against disabled individuals, and to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals who were otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of their job.  Although many cases have been filed under the ADA over the years, employees have had a difficult time prevailing in them, mainly because courts have taken a restrictive view of what constitutes a “disability.”

Under the original ADA, a “disability” is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.  According to the original regulations interpreting the ADA, a person is “substantially limited in performing a major life activity” if s/he is either unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform, or is significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which an individual can perform a major life activity.  In addition, courts have held that employees must overcome a “significant hurdle” to prove they are disabled; that the impairment must be permanent or long term; and that mitigating or corrective measures, such as medications, must be considered in determining whether a person is actually disabled.  In other words, according to the Supreme Court, if a person takes measures to correct an impairment (such as a diabetic taking insulin) which allows him/her to perform major life activities, then that person is not “disabled.”


The ADAAA was enacted to reject the original regulations and case law referenced above, and provide protection to more people with impairments by lightening the burden of proving “disability”.  The amendments specifically provide that the definition of “disability” “shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under the ADA, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA.” 

The highlights of the ADAAA are:

•To meet the definition of “disability” now, an employee no longer must be “unable to perform” major life activities or “significantly restricted” in how he performs major life activities;

•In determining whether a person is disabled, the employer can no longer take into account mitigating measures such as whether medication, prosthetics or behavioral modifications correct the impairment;

•Several new “major life activities” are recognized, including “major bodily functions” such as digestive, bowel, bladder, brain and reproductive functions, among others;

•An employer “regards” a person as “disabled” if s/he has been subjected to an action prohibited under the ADA because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment “whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.”

Practical Effects for Satellite Companies

There are two major practical effects of the ADAAA: First, employers now may have many more “disabled” employees than previously.  This means that employers need to engage in the “interactive process” with impaired persons and, where necessary, identify and provide reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified disabled employees.  Second, lawsuits under the ADAAA will spike and will revolve around whether a reasonable accommodation was provided or whether an employee was treated differently because of a “disability”.

To keep matters in perspective, employers still are not mandated to hire certain individuals because they are disabled.  Employers, however, are prohibited from refusing to hire, promote or transfer an individual on the basis of disability.  Employers must also engage in the interactive process with disabled individuals to determine if reasonable accommodations need to be made for a disabled employee.  Accordingly, employers would be wise to reevaluate their disability discrimination policies concerning the “interactive process” with disabled individuals, and policies concerning identifying and providing reasonable accommodations. 

* Eric E. Packel is a Shareholder in the Labor and Employment Group at Polsinelli Shughart PC.  He has tried a wide variety of jury trials involving employment claims and has also defended a number of wage and hour collective actions, including those brought against satellite broadcasters.  He can be reached at, or Twelve Wyandotte Plaza, 120 W. 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105.


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Coming Soon: New Member Benefits

SBCA is in the process of developing a new website that will include a section for press releases issued by SBCA member companies.  Companies can submit their press releases to be posted on this site by sending them to

SBCA is also preparing to launch two new member benefits including group insurance discounts and fleet management savings (from 1-1500+ vehicles). Announcements to follow.

SBCA on the Road

Over the next few months SBCA staff will be attending various regional industry meetings as well as DIRECTV’s Dealer Revolution in Dallas, the Broadband Properties Summit also in Dallas, and DISH Network’s Team Summit in Denver. See you there!

New Members

Listed below are SBCA's newest members that have joined over the past month that we would like to welcome to the Association:

Audio Video Plus

Torrance, CA

Northland Communications

Mandan, ND

SatProf, Inc.

Alexandria, VA

Britt J. Patterson

Yancey De La Torre

DTV Transition

On June 12, 2009 U.S. over the air television broadcasting will change from an analog to a digital format. As a public service we are providing a number of links to resources that might help you decide which path is right for you to comply with the digital transition. The consumer based satellite industry and SBCA are committed to helping you make the transition as easy as possible. Click here for more details.

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