Southwest Coloradans received a stocking stuffer on Christmas Eve: agreements with satellite television providers to carry Denver’s Public Broadcasting Service affiliate, Rocky Mountain PBS.
But the big present – satellite pickup of Denver commercial network affiliates for ABC, CBS and NBC – remains an elusive gift that won’t be in Santa’s bag this year.
On Tuesday, Rocky Mountain Public Media announced that Rocky Mountain PBS will be available for the first time to DirecTV customers in La Plata County, and to DISH Network customers in both La Plata and Montezuma counties.
Rocky Mountain PBS is now available in standard definition on channel 15 through satellite provider DirecTV and the Denver PBS affiliate should become available, also on standard definition, via DISH within the next two months, said Alex Forsett, RMPBS western Colorado regional manager, in a news release.
“This is a big step forward for public television and Colorado programming in La Plata and Montezuma counties, where we’ve long been considered part of the Albuquerque market and, as a result, orphans in our home state,” said James Foster, chairman emeritus of the Rocky Mountain PBS board of directors and a La Plata County resident.
Rocky Mountain PBS’ national, state and local programming will continue to be made available through local cable providers, as well as broadcast by KRMU on channel 20.1 in Durango.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who has met with federal officials in Washington, D.C., in an effort to bring Denver TV to La Plata and Montezuma counties, said: “Residents in La Plata and Montezuma counties have worked for years to bring in-state television programming to southwestern Colorado. During my visits there, citizens have emphasized how incredibly important this issue is to them.”
He added, “Today, we are taking an important first step with this announcement that DirecTV and DISH are now providing Rocky Mountain PBS to its customers.”
Rocky Mountain Public Media is Colorado’s largest statewide, member-supported, multimedia organization and the parent company of Rocky Mountain PBS, KUVO Jazz and The Drop. Rocky Mountain Public Media has more than 90,000 members representing every county in Colorado and reaches 98% of the state’s residents through television, radio and digital platforms.
Foster added, “We’ve been working for this, together with our elected officials at both the federal and state levels, even before I joined the board in 2008, and hundreds if not thousands of Durango residents have signed petitions and written letters to the FCC on our behalf.”
Mark Cornetta, president and general manager of KUSA, the Denver affiliate of NBC, said yearslong discussions between Denver affiliates for the major networks and satellite providers continue in an effort to provide Southwest Colorado with in-state commercial television affiliates via satellite providers. However, no agreement has been reached.
La Plata and Montezuma counties are dubbed “orphan counties” – receiving out-of-state network affiliates because they are in the Albuquerque Nielson Media Research designated market area.
Cornetta said the only programming owned by the local affiliates is locally produced programs from Denver and the Front Range, and that programming was offered to satellite providers years ago, but satellite providers have declined to carry the local shows on their systems in La Plata and Montezuma counties.
“We’ve offered to allow them to carry our local programming. That’s the only programming we have rights to. We’ve offered that programming for years, and they have declined, and we have not been able to change their minds on that.”
Efforts to reach DirecTV and DISH Network were unsuccessful on Christmas Eve.
Weiser said he will continue to work with satellite providers and commercial stations to bring their services to Southwest Colorado.
“We still have work to do with satellite providers and commercial stations, but this is important progress to celebrate,” he said.