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Planning regulations and landlords’ bans on satellite dishes may be illegal after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled that a landlord in Sweden had no power to evict his tenants because they had a satellite dish.

In test case 23883/06, the court decided the tenants had a human right under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the freedom to receive information.

The tenants received approximately £10,000 in damages and £8,600 in costs and expenses.

According to AdvancedTelevision.com, UK Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the decision could drive a ‘coach and horses’ through planning and similar legislation.

UK planning guidelines currently restrict the number, position and size of satellite dishes on a building, with severe restrictions in conservation areas and on listed buildings. Many private and public landlords forbid tenants and leaseholders from installing satellite dishes.

The ECHR’s decision appears to place the individual right to receive information above planning rules or contractual conditions.

However, there is likely to be further debate because the tenants had attempted to satisfy the landlord by moving the dish inside, with line of sight to the satellite through a kitchen window.

The landlord, who evicted the Iraqi couple and their three children, also violated the couple’s right to respect for private and family life (Article 8).

Card Restrictions Illegal after December 2009 – EU

(reports The Round Town News)

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From December 2009 any attempts by Sky to stop their viewing cards being used in Spain(or any other EU country) will be illegal. Also, the BBC and any other European broadcaster will not be able to use the law to stop their programmes being viewed across EU borders.

This victory for TV freedom is contained in the latest European TV Directive, 2007/65. The lifting of cross boarder restrictions comes into force on 19 December 2009, giving all those who lived in fear of losing their TV programmes an early Christmas present.

Until December anyone using a Sky viewing card in Spain is doing so in contravention of Sky’s Terms and Conditions about location and usage. Despite paying Sky’s subscriptions there is always the constant threat of the card being deactivated the moment Sky finds out it is being used outside the UK. Allegedly Sky is only licensed by programme copyright holders to broadcast to customers located in the UK and Ireland. This may be upheld for some sporting events and films, but most other programmes will fail location restrictions without national Government intervention (censorship).

It is our opinion that Sky will secretly welcome the removal of their restrictions. Last year we calculated that Sky was receiving between £150 and £180 million in subscriptions from expats and businesses located outside the UK. Making this huge revenue legal could encourage Sky to develop their non-UK based English speaking market even further. There could be special expat packages, advertising opportunities and even channels. The greatest benefit would be a roaming viewing card to work automatically in any suitable Set Top Box. Holiday home owners and those who spend part of the year in both the UK and Spain could then travel with a single Sky card usable anywhere.

The BBC and other UK broadcasters are also affected by the introduction of the Directive. Unreasonable technical restrictions preventing EU citizens from watching their broadcasts would also be covered. Obviously there are issues around the weaker Astra2D broadcasts of Free To Air channels such as BBC2 and Channel 5. However, there are also blocks stopping EU citizens watching TV through the internet. The BBC web site deliberately prevents viewing of its live programmes to anyone outside the UK. Also, their iPlayer is disabled if you try to access it from a Spanish internet connection.

As reported by The Round Town News, this issue has been relentlessly pursued by the British Expats Association through the Commission of Petitions to the European Parliament. A second legal opinion has confirmed the freedom of TV Without Frontiers directives and identified the date of 19 December 2009 by which the broadcasters can no longer impose their restrictions.

The Round Town News suggests that Sky and the BBC “will strenuously resist the EU law.” We disagree. We are not aware of any representations they have made against the Directives. Also, the law has now opened up the whole of Europe to their broadcasts and given them the potential to create new sources of revenue from English speakers. Access to such a huge new market, that will take little new investment to reach, is a gift in these recessionary times.

 

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