Rocky Mountain PBS, the Denver affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service, has been picked up by the satellite television provider DISH Network in Montezuma and La Plata counties.
DISH executives announced Tuesday that KRMA-TV will be carried on DISH channel 8.
Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, said efforts by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez; and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to raise the awareness to the satellite provider about the plight of orphan counties, which are counties that receive television from out-of-state markets, prompted DISH to work with Rocky Mountain PBS.
“This launch is a positive first step in bringing home-state television to our subscribers in La Plata and Montezuma counties. Our priority at DISH remains to deliver the content our customers want, and we are working diligently with other Denver-based programmers to bring their channels to viewers in southwestern Colorado,” Blum said in a prepared statement.
In 2010, Bennet pushed Congress to require the Federal Communications Commission to report on potential solutions to bring Colorado broadcasts to La Plata and Montezuma counties. In 2014, Bennet secured language in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, the STELAR Act, to help La Plata and Montezuma access in-state broadcasts from cable and satellite providers.
“Residents of La Plata and Montezuma counties have gone without access to in-state programming for far too long, and they are rightly frustrated with the situation,” Bennet said in a news release. “After years of discussions with local broadcasters, satellite companies and other parties, we welcome the agreement between Rocky Mountain PBS and DISH. This initial breakthrough demonstrates that progress is possible, and I urge the remaining parties to follow their lead and promptly reach an agreement.”
In December 2019, the other major satellite television provider, DIRECTV, announced it would carry RMPBS. It is carried on DIRECTV channel 15.
Talks underway to carry the Denver affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX in La Plata and Montezuma counties are unlikely to lead to coverage in Southwest Colorado anytime soon.
Because La Plata and Montezuma counties are in the Albuquerque Nielsen direct market area, the commercial stations have contracts with television syndication companies that create legal complications in carrying commercial Denver television stations here.
Mark Cornetta, president and general manager of KUSA, the Denver affiliate of NBC, has said commercial Denver stations have offered the satellite providers the option of carrying locally produced programming, which is the only programming owned by the local affiliates. However, he said the affiliates have declined to make space available solely for locally produced programming out of Denver.