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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2015 11:17 AM
From: Senator Mario M. Scavello
To: All Senate members
Subject: Early Termination Fees for Satellite Television
I am writing to invite you to join with me in cosponsoring a bill (formerly House Bill 552 of 2013) that I will be re-introducing in the near future that will allow satellite television customers, who are thinking of signing up for service or have just signed up for service, the right to cancel their contract without penalty within the first seven days of signing their contract.

While satellite television works well for some customers, it doesn’t always have the same effect for everyone. One major problem is the availability of local programming. Major satellite providers maintain that local programming is available in major markets and the surrounding areas for an additional service fee. However, in many cases, the local programming affiliates that are made available to satellite subscribers are not predicated upon relationships between a given local affiliate and a community. Rather, complicated media market maps are used to determine what area will receive coverage from a given local affiliate for satellite customers. As a result of this approach, many communities receive “local service” from network affiliates which do not carry local news and programming that is relevant.

Another major problem that often occurs for satellite customers is disrupted service caused by natural obstructions. Pennsylvania is a state which contains many large mountains, rock formations and forests which may impede the availability of a satellite signal. Unfortunately, the presence these natural obstructions are not taken into account sometimes when service contracts are drafted by a satellite company. When this occurs, consumers are contractually locked in to a satellite service which can be described as spotty, at best.

Strengthening Pennsylvania’s consumer protection laws is always a priority of the General Assembly. By implementing legislation that permits consumers to opt out of a satellite television agreement within seven days of an agreement being reached, the General Assembly would be taking another positive step in its efforts to make its consumer protection laws more conducive for its residents.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Christine Zubeck in my office at 717-787-6123 or czubeck@pasen.gov. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB972