La Plata County took another step in a decades-long journey toward Denver TV access this week as county commissioners unanimously voted to petition the Federal Communications Commission for a market modification.
The county is the first in the United States to make such a request, which would enable satellite providers to offer subscribers access to Denver television news, weather and sports.
This petition was made possible in February this year, when the FCC, at the urging of the congressional delegation, agreed counties should be able to directly petition the FCC for a market modification, as opposed to satellite companies and broadcasters.
“This is the single biggest issue you hear about in Southwest Colorado as a congressional aide,” said John Whitney, southwest regional director for Sen. Michael Bennet’s office. Bennet, as well as Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton, have backed La Plata County in its push for Colorado television.
If the FCC approves the market modification, two satellite providers would be able to strike agreements with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Denver.
It’s part of a decades-long fight for in-state television programming in Southwest Colorado, where “orphan counties” such as La Plata and Montezuma receive their news from Albuquerque.
“This has been an issue almost as long as any of us can remember,” Commissioner Julie Westendorff said. “The newspaper talks about the Broncos and so on, but the most consistent comment I hear is that people feel they’re not in Colorado because they can’t get public-affairs coverage here. With all the ballot measures this year and no televised discussion, it shows how underserved our community is on public affairs. Hopefully, that’s a different story in the coming years.”
The FCC has 120 days to act on the petition.