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Monday, August 8, 2011

Having a satellite dish 'is a human right,' says European court

Having a satellite dish 'is a human right,' says European court

It is regarded as a luxury that allows people to watch top sport and blockbuster movies from the comfort of their armchairs.

But owning a satellite dish is actually a human right, according to unelected European judges.

In an extraordinary ruling, lawmakers in Strasbourg have warned that banning dishes on listed buildings, social housing and even private homes could breach the right to freedom of expression by preventing people from practice religion.

The judgement is a huge blow to campaigners who have fought to stop the large metal dishes blighting the brickwork of historic buildings and rental properties.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Britain’s discrimination watchdog, has now published new guidance warning that landlords could be at risk of being sued if they try to stop their tenants putting up a satellite dish.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said that the ruling, under the Human Rights Act, threatened to drive ‘a horse and cart’ through planning laws.

Two tenants in Sweden took their government to court after they were evicted by their landlord in a dispute over a dish.

The couple installed one of the dishes on their rented property but the landlord ordered them to take it down. They refused and were later thrown out of the property.

But European judges ruled that the Swedish government had failed in its obligation to protect the couple’s right to receive information. It found that satellite dishes come under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Commission’s Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: ‘The right to use a satellite dish [is] one of the many concrete benefits for European consumers of the free movement of goods and services within the internal market.

‘Satellite dishes are an increasingly popular tool for receiving multiple services via satellite: they facilitate mutual exchanges between our various cultures by overcoming national borders, and familiarise the general public with the new remote communications technologies. Their use must therefore be free from any unjustified obstacle.’


However, further reading suggets that a satellite dish is required so that people can receive news and information. It does not specify what sized dish is required to receive news and information. So it does not say that the installation of a 2.4m dish is automatically granted. In fact it could be argued that BBC News and BBC WOrld News, both available on smaller 80cm satellite dishes, is more than enough to satisfy the EU rules on receiving of news and information in your own language

1 comment:

  1. 05 August 2011

    In response to comments made by Housing and Planning Minister Grant Shapps about human rights in social housing, a spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

    “There is no human right to satellite TV. The human right in this example is the right to practise your religion. It is only an illustration of how the law might apply in exceptional circumstances, nor should it be taken out of context. Only the courts can decide if someone’s human rights have in fact been breached.”