Why do people in poverty have satellite dishes – philly o gastronomo buffet

“It’s a shame people are so judgy about satellite dishes,” said Sutton, 42, a single mother of two who had cable service once but dropped it after concluding it was “highway robbery.” She said she tries to “keep it small now” in her Northeast Philadelphia home, watching TV online.

The cheapest available monthly packages for Dish Satellite TV and DirecTV satellite programming (no premium channels or high-definition) are $59.99 for 190 channels, and $35 for 150, respectively, according to Reviews.org, a tech consumer guide. For Comcast Xfinity cable, it’s $49.99 for 140 channels. Equipment installation costs for Comcast cable can be free with some promotions, or range as high as $80. Satellite installation also can be free, with fees often dependent on a customer’s credit.

“It’s extraordinarily irresponsible for people with privilege to argue that a Philadelphia family be denied basic communications and entertainment because they’re poor,” said Hannah Sassaman, policy director at Media Mobilizing Project, a West Philadelphia communications company that helps the disadvantaged. “We live in a world that’s digital.”

One largely misunderstood aspect of poverty is that people are constantly moving in and out of it. The Financial Diaries Study by New York University demonstrated that volatility: In a month’s time, a family’s income could spike, then dip, without warning. So, if dish service makes sense in May, it can become out of the question by June.

Because rents are high and salaries aren’t, many families living in poverty are doubling and tripling up in apartments. There’s often enough money scraped together to pay for a satellite TV contract, said Karen Pushaw, a staff member of St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen in Kensington.

People worry about kids being murdered in schools in Florida and Texas, but the danger in such places as North Philadelphia is constant, said Laura Peralta-Schulte, a senior advocate for Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, a Washington-based nonprofit founded by nuns working for social justice.

“Your kids see other kids watching Nick Jr. , and they feel outcast and isolated when they can’t watch in your house,” said Sutton, the single mother of two. “So you sacrifice to get a dish. Some of us worked two or three jobs to keep up with the Joneses and Kardashians for our kids.”

It’s not just low-income children who benefit from satellite and cable television. “There’s the population of elderly poor,” said Dot Newton, executive director of Deliverance Community Development Corp. in North Philadelphia. “What would they have sitting home all day if they didn’t have TV?”

Debra Colbert, 45, of North Philadelphia, agreed. A stay-at-home mother of five married to a truck driver, she said that “cable is a creature comfort we can’t afford right now. It’s very irresponsible to try to get cable if your bills are not paid on time.”

Philadelphia Media Network is one of 19 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow @BrokeInPhilly