Grassroots Effort Showcases Satellite Industry’s Strength to Nation’s Lawmakers

More than 200 SBCA retailer members from across the country came to Washington, D.C. in full force Tuesday and Wednesday to meet their representatives in Congress to brief them on important legislative affecting the DBS industry and their local retail businesses.  TheSatellite Broadcasting and Communications Association’s first education and legislative program, “SBCA 2003 Retailer Rally: Sending Our Signal to the Hill,” offered retail members two days of business seminars, legislative briefings and lobbying, and National Standards and Testing Program (NSTP) training and certification courses.

“The events of the past two days showed the unity of the satellite industry, its economic impact and the invaluable services we provide in every state and thousands of communities across the country,” said SBCA Retail Council Chairman Jim Stephen, president of INTERTECH Digital Entertainment in Lockport, NY.  “The programs provided an education on the legislative process, as well as ways for the retailers to enhance their businesses in our growing industry. As we celebrate the 20 million DBS subscriber mark, the Rally provided a significant benchmark to the industry’s strength.”

Highlights of Tuesday’s programs included a luncheon address by DIRECTV Chairman and CEO Eddy W. Hartenstein in which he emphasized the importance of the independent retailer to the DBS industry. Hartenstein also spoke of the satellite industry’s need to continue its tradition of strong customer service, and the importance of high-definition and digital video recorders to the growth of the industry. Retailers also heard from the FCC’s Eloise Gore about the regulation of satellite dish placement under the Over-The-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) rules in a discussion moderated by Buddy Davis, president of Davis Antenna in Waldorf, MD. Other seminars educated attendees on DBS retail products and sales and marketing strategies. 

Following remarks from EchoStar Chairman and CEO Charles Ergen and additional business seminars, the program shifted to focus on the legislative component of the Rally on Wednesday. Attendees met with more than 100 Congressional offices to celebrate reaching the 20 million DBS subscriber benchmark and to reinforce the industry’s opposition to Northpoint’s attempted legislative spectrum grab.  Retailers also primed legislators for the upcoming reauthorization in 2004 of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, and discussed the importance of the legislation for their businesses. The Capitol Hill program began with a briefing led by SBCA Government Affairs staff at a luncheon that also featured former Congressman Robert Walker, who provided the audience with his insider’s perspective on the importance of grassroots efforts. 

The culmination of the Capitol Hill program was a technology demonstration that brought together congressional staff and the local faces of the DBS industry.  The demo showcased the importance of satellite-delivered technologies, including high-definition video, digital/personal video recorders, and radio and broadband services.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association is the national trade organization representing all segments of the satellite industry.  It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of video, audio, data, music, voice, interactive, and broadband services.  The SBCA is composed of DBS, C-band, broadband, satellite radio, and other satellite service providers, content providers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, encryption vendors, and national and regional distribution companies that make up the satellite services industry. SBCA oversees the industry’s National Standards and Testing Program (NSTP), a self-regulating training and testing curriculum for installation professionals. Additional information can be found at