Albuquerque television stations have petitioned the Federal Communication Commission to block Denver stations with the same network affiliations from reaching La Plata County viewers.
La Plata County has until Wednesday to respond to the FCC in regard to companies that oppose its pursuit of Denver television.
In October, the county submitted a market modification to the FCC, which is a request to allow Denver television stations to broadcast locally.
Currently, La Plata and Montezuma counties are “orphan counties,” which means they receive programming from Albuquerque instead of in-state broadcasting.
During a comment period that ended Nov. 22, several companies filed opposition petitions with the FCC.
KOAT-TV, an ABC affiliate, and NBC affiliate KOB-TV, both of Albuquerque, told the FCC they oppose the county’s request for those respective Denver channels. They asserted that four statutory factors disqualify La Plata County from a market modification, including that the county has not historically carried Denver stations, Denver lacks geographic proximity, Denver stations lack “any meaningful audience” in the county, and the county receives “ample technical coverage and local programming” from Albuquerque stations.
LIN, a licensee of CBS and Fox affiliate stations, also filed a petition with respect to the county’s request for access to Denver stations KDVR (Fox) and KCNC (CBS).
Because the county did not receive the opposition petitions until late November, staff members sought a one-week extension of the Dec. 7 deadline.
On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously ratified the extension, as well as a motion allowing county staff members to file a response to the opposition petitions.
In their reply to the FCC, county staff members wrote: “The oppositions are nothing more than attempts to deny residents of La Plata County the choice to access the in-state local broadcast stations they have long desired alongside their existing local broadcast TV stations. Importantly, nothing in the petitions seeks to reduce the local market areas of any of the Albuquerque stations. Granting the petitions would give long-disenfranchised Coloradans the ability to receive satellite carriers (and) the local broadcast affiliates from their own state capital.
“The petitions would not cause La Plata County residents to lose access to the Albuquerque stations.”
The FCC has a March 20 deadline to make a determination on the market modification. To review opposition statements and all public comments, visit www.fcc.gov and click on “most active proceedings” on the proceedings and actions tab.