This has been a truly incredible year for our Broncos, as they have made all of Colorado proud with their run for a third football world championship. But as we make sure we have enough chips, wings and beer on hand for the Super Bowl tonight, one thing Coloradans shouldn’t have to worry about is whether we’ll be able to watch the game at all.
Yet that is exactly the uncertainty that Broncos fans in Durango, Cortez and across the southwest corner of the state have faced for years because of outdated TV boundaries that prevent them from receiving in-state TV programming. The Four Corners region of Colorado unfortunately is part of the Albuquerque-Santa Fe TV market. This means that approximately 32,000 households in parts of La Plata and Montezuma counties often cannot watch Colorado news, weather and emergency information. And these Coloradans are often uncertain about whether the Broncos game will be available over the airwaves.
And Colorado is not alone. Despite all of the advances in broadcast technology in recent decades, viewers in areas across the country are still unable to get a TV signal from their home states.
That’s why I was proud to work with a New Mexico TV station last year to ensure that residents of Southwest Colorado would not miss any Broncos football this past season. After productive conversations with Fox’s Albuquerque affiliate, KASA, they agreed to air the Broncos’ games throughout the 2013 regular season. While this was an important victory for Broncos fans in this record-setting year for our team, we still need a permanent solution.
That’s why I am continuing to push for a more permanent solution that ensures, like our AFC champion Broncos, Coloradans continue to be united in orange.
Luckily, solving this problem for Coloradans and thousands of other American households is possible. But make no mistake, securing this victory will require grit, flexibility, patience and a willingness to work as a team. That’s why I am pushing an all-of-the-above strategy to move the ball down the field on this issue.
First, Congress should work this year – across party lines – to fix this problem when it reconsiders a federal law that governs the transmission of TV broadcast signals by satellite TV companies. This legislation, which I will fight for, would allow pay TV providers to retransmit in-state TV programming to La Plata and Montezuma county households. That is the kind of freedom we in the west appreciate.
Moreover, I will keep working with television providers to reach private agreements to deliver in-state broadcast television to the Four Corners area. Having successfully worked with the New Mexico TV station earlier this year to reach an agreement that covered the current football season, I remain optimistic that we can still work together to achieve a lasting solution for Coloradans.
In the end, this is not just about Coloradans cheering on our team as it marches toward another Super Bowl championship – it’s about making sure that communities across Colorado have access to the news, sports and weather they care about most.
Mark Udall, D-Boulder, is Colorado’s senior U.S. senator. Reach his Durango office at 247-1047.