Senators introduce Denver TV legislation

Measure would change law for orphan counties

WASHINGTON – Four Corners residents could be a step closer to receiving Denver television with a new measure filed Tuesday in the Senate.

The measure, an amendment to the Patent Reform Act, would change Federal Communications Commission law so cable and satellite providers could more easily deliver in-state television broadcasts to so-called orphan counties like La Plata and Montezuma counties that get out-of-state television signals.

“My hope is that this will be one important step down the road to giving folks that live in our state a very important connection to the rest of our state,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who introduced the amendment.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., also signed on as a co-sponsor.

“This is an issue of fairness and public safety, and we’re not going to stop fighting until Coloradans in the Four Corners can get access to Colorado TV,” he said in a statement.

Both he and Bennet supported an unsuccessful 2009 bill with similar provisions. As with that bill, the new amendment would create a satellite and a cable fix for the issue.

The satellite fix would modify an FCC exception that currently allows state television broadcasts to be shown in some orphan counties, but that doesn’t apply to La Plata and Montezuma counties. The amendment would broaden the exception so La Plata and Montezuma could be brought under its umbrella.

The cable fix would designate Denver television broadcast stations as “significantly viewed” in La Plata and Montezuma counties, which would make it easier for cable operators to offer those stations in the counties.

Bennet’s office said it wasn’t clear when and whether the amendment would be considered by the Senate. However, if the amendment is not passed, Bennet plans to introduce a similar bill later this year.

“One of the very first issues I heard about on my very first tour around the state of Colorado when I was in this job was how important residents in the Four Corners believe it is to get Colorado television,” he said.

Karen Frantz is an American University intern for The Durango Herald. Reach her at herald@durango herald.com.