Responding to persistent public demand, Colorado lawmakers are seeking to expand a legal exception that would allow La Plata and Montezuma counties to see television programming from Denver rather than Albuquerque.
Legislation was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday that would allow cable and satellite companies to provide the counties Colorado programming even though they are in Albuquerque's designated market area, which is established by The Nielsen Co.
The Four Corners Television Access Act was introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet in the Senate with Colorado's other senator, Mark Udall, as co-sponsor, and by U.S. Rep. John Salazar in the House.
"According to my staff in the region, people call literally every day asking us to do something to get this long-standing issue resolved," Bennet said in a phone interview Wednesday. "It only makes sense that people who live in Colorado - wherever they live - ought to have access to Colorado news and sports programs."
Local TV viewers have long expressed deep indignation at having teams such as the Dallas Cowboys usurp their home-state boys, the Denver Broncos, on game days. What's more, they receive political news out of Santa Fe rather than Denver and,
during election season, are targeted by candidates they can't even vote for while failing to hear from those they can.
The bill would not change the stations seen by viewers receiving a broadcast signal by antennae.
Udall, in a statement, said, "Coloradans deserve access to news and programming from their own state - whether it's because they need to get breaking news alerts about severe weather and emergencies or to support the Broncos."
The issue isn't new to Salazar, who has pushed legislation to resolve the issue in the past.
"Every time I visit my friends and constituents in the Four Corners area, I am asked if we can fix the Denver TV problem," he said in a statement. "I sponsored legislation during the last Congress to try to address the issue. Now, with strong support from the community and the legislative backing of Senators Bennet and Udall, I'm hoping we will be able to solve this problem for good."
Bennet, who was named earlier this year to replace Ken Salazar after Salazar's appointment as Interior secretary, acknowledged success will be elusive.
"It's going be hard. This is one of these cases where there are competing interests that have nothing to do with Colorado that have to do with state and communities around the country," he said.
But he vowed to fight the good fight.
"We're just going to keep trying until we get it done," he said.
He said Congress this year considers the Satellite Home-viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, "which could be used as a vehicle to get this across the finish line."
Salazar spokesman Eric Wortman said a similar opportunity would be sought in the House.
"We're certainly looking at any option," he said. "It could be any bill that's moving that has to do with the (Federal Communications Commission)."
But will it make it to the end zone?
"I think the chances of passage are better than ever," he said.