After a frustrating weekend for many DirecTV subscribers in La Plata County, KMGH, the ABC affiliate based in Denver, appears to be activated for county subscribers on the satellite system’s channel 17.
Anita Rancatti, who lives in the Animas Valley, called a DirecTV customer representative Friday afternoon after she failed to get KMGH. She spent three frustrating hours with three separate service representative without getting the problem fixed.
“The third rep went through everything, including the age of my equipment, and decided that I needed to have a technician actually visit to see what was wrong with the sat dish. That visit would cost $99 or I could buy an ‘insurance’ policy for the gear we lease from DirecTV for $8.99 a month and the visit and any replacement gear would be included. At that point, I told him that did not make any sense, and I asked to be escalated to the next level. I could not understand why this channel could not show up the same way as RMPBS,” Rancatti said in an email to The Durango Herald.
On Monday, Rancatti reported KMGH unexpectedly became available on her DirecTV system.
“Denver ABC just showed up today without any further actions by me. Go figure!” she said in an email.
Megan Ketterer, a spokeswoman with AT&T, owner of DirecTV, said Tuesday that all technical issues involved in receiving KMGH on channel 17 on DirecTV systems in La Plata County had been resolved.
Most DirecTV customers in La Plata County already receive the program package required to now receive KMGH on channel 17, Ketterer said. In some cases, customers who have customized their “favorite channels” will need to re-set that lineup.
DirecTV also resent the transmission signal to activate some set-top boxes that were initially having reception issues. The few customers with a program package that does not include local channels or anyone with any remaining technical difficulties can contact customer service, Ketterer said.
La Plata County officials petitioned the FCC seeking the addition of Denver affiliates, and the additions apply only to La Plata County. Ketterer said until officials in Montezuma County make a similar appeal to the FCC and it rules in their favor, DirecTV is prevented by law from offering the same Denver stations there.
Courtney Gidner, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, said Bennet’s office had also heard from a number of La Plata County residents who were not receiving KMGH on their DirecTV systems through the weekend. She reported the situation has been resolved for all those who had reached out to the office.
La Plata and Montezuma counties are dubbed “orphan counties,” meaning their local stations come from an out-of-state broadcaster based on Nielsen designated market areas. The counties are in the Albuquerque Designated Market Area.
Federal, state and local officials called broadcasters and satellite companies to reach an agreement to provide residents in Southwest Colorado access to in-state programming during the coronavirus outbreak.
Denver affiliates have been shy to offer their signals to La Plata and Montezuma counties based on legal complications and contractual obligations with program syndication companies that are based on geographic boundaries set by Nielsen DMAs.