Gardner, Bennet, Tipton Urge FCC to Approve La Plata County Petition for Denver TV

La Plata County, CO – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Congressman Scott Tipton sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler urging quick approval of La Plata County’s petition for inclusion into the Denver television market for satellite television.  The letter was included in the county’s market modification petition, which was approved today by the La Plata County Commission.  


The petition asks the FCC to permanently modify the Denver local television market to include La Plata County. This would allow La Plata County satellite subscribers to access Denver broadcast television.  Currently, La Plata and Montezuma counties receive television broadcasts from New Mexico rather than Colorado, and thus do not receive local news, sports, and emergency information. 


In the letter the lawmakers wrote:

“For the past several years, our offices have worked together with the satellite providers and broadcasters to find a workable solution to the orphan county issue,” Tipton said.  “While we were able to find temporary fixes to provide some viewers with Denver television, it’s time for a permanent solution.”

“For too long, many Coloradans in the Four Corners region have been unable to receive Colorado news, weather, and sports,” said Gardner. “Since my time in the House of Representatives, I have worked with members of both parties to bring Colorado TV to the southwest and met with local officials in Colorado to discuss how to resolve the issue. If approved, this bipartisan and locally-driven effort will benefit southwest Coloradans and I’m proud of the work we have done thus far. I strongly support La Plata County’s petition to the FCC, and I look forward to continuing to work with interested stakeholders to ensure no part of Colorado is forgotten.”

“It’s commonsense that people living in Colorado should have access to Colorado news, sports, and programming,” Bennet said. “We have been working with Montezuma and La Plata counties, satellite providers, and Denver broadcasters for years on this problem and these communities have waited far too long.  The approval and submission of this market modification petition is a critical step forward that will bring us closer to resolving this issue.  We appreciate the leadership of the La Plata County Commission and their staff to assemble and submit this petition.”

 “In 2014, FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler gave me his word that he would work with our office to bring Colorado TV broadcasts to the residents of Southwest Colorado,” Tipton said. “This is an issue that has taken too long to resolve, but I am glad to see that the county’s petition was approved by the county commission and we are a step closer to bringing relevant TV broadcasts to families in La Plata County.” 


Following up on the passage of the STELAR Act, Bennet, Gardner, and Tipton wrote a letter to the FCC requesting this rule change so that county commissions in the Four Corners region could petition the FCC directly to change broadcasting markets to better serve their communities.


Full text of the letter below: 

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We write in strong support of La Plata County’s market modification petition for inclusion into the Denver, Colorado, designated market area (DMA).  Their submission is the result of years of work by the county and its residents who have demanded access to in-state television programming for local news, weather, and sports.

La Plata County is part of the Albuquerque, New Mexico DMA.  As such, television subscribers do not have access to Colorado programming, including critical information, such as developments from the state capital, and local sports and weather.   

For the past several years, our offices have worked together with the satellite providers and broadcasters to find a workable solution to the orphan county issue.  While were able to find temporary fixes to provide some viewers with Denver television, it is time for a permanent solution.  With the Denver broadcasters indicating their willingness to negotiate carriage of their programming to all Colorado viewers, and the satellite companies indicating that carriage is feasible, we hope this petition will resolve the issue for viewers in La Plata County. 

We are pleased the Commission set forth the process that allows local governments to petition for market modification, based on language we secured in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014.  In fact, in its September 2015 final rulemaking, the Commission specifically cited our April 2015 letter detailing La Plata County’s situation as an “orphan county” in adopting new market modification rules.  

We urge the Commission to swiftly review this petition and work with all relevant parties to quickly complete consideration of the market modification process.  

Thank you for your consideration.