WASHINGTON, D.C. – Southwestern Colorado residents’ call for access to Denver TV will get another look after the passage of a satellite bill in the House on Tuesday.
The House passed the bipartisan STELA, or Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, on Tuesday. The measure will reauthorize the law allowing satellite operators to provide broadcast programming to many Americans in rural areas.
The legislation also contained an amendment from Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma., that will study the options and feasibility of getting La Plata and Montezuma counties TV programming from Colorado rather than Albuquerque.
Before the bill’s passage, U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, asked the House to incorporate legislation they sponsored that would have amended the Communications Act of 1934 and copyright laws to allow residents of La Plata and Montezuma counties to receive Colorado broadcast stations by satellite or cable from Denver or Grand Junction instead of Albuquerque.
“It is important that all Coloradans have access to the local emergency and safety information,” Gardner said in a statement that echoed the concerns of the senators.
The bill passed in a voice vote without the senators’ provision to ensure Colorado TV for residents, but it did include Gardner’s amendment that will bring additional study into fixing the problem.
Josh Green, press secretary for Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said politics got in the way of the senators’ amendment to guarantee Colorado TV for the counties.
“Sens. Udall and Bennet never once reached out to Congressman Tipton or his colleagues prior to introducing their bill despite having worked together on the issue in the previous Congress,” Green said.
The issue of connecting Southwest Colorado residents with Colorado TV is far from over. Green said Tipton is working with members of the House to find a way to resolve the issue. Udall and Bennet also will have the opportunity to further the legislation when the Senate votes on its version of the STELA Act in the coming months.
La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said it’s time to change the channels.
“Four Corners residents deserve the opportunity to participate fully in matters of importance to our state and to contribute our voices and opinions in decisions that affect our lives,” she said.