Counties May Now Petition to Agency for Local Channels - Rule Follows Pressure from Colorado Delegation
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) announcement of a final rule that will allow rural La Plata and Montezuma Counties to petition for access to local in-state broadcasts from cable and satellite providers. 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.
The finalized rule allows rural counties to apply to the FCC to have in-state broadcasts added to their current television market. Counties would submit separate application for each channel they wish to add to their market.
"Coloradans in La Plata and Montezuma counties have waited far too long to access local broadcasts, but they haven't stopped fighting to resolve this issue," Bennet said. "Finally, there's a path in place that will allow them to access the news and sports they want to watch. We'll continue to work with the counties to help ensure the next steps in this process come in a timely manner."
Since coming to the Senate, Bennet has worked alongside officials from La Plata and Montezuma Counties to help residents access in-state broadcasts for news, weather, emergency information, and sports. In 2010, Bennet pushed Congress to require the FCC to report on potential solutions to bring Colorado broadcasts to the two counties. He then urged the FCC Commission to use that report as a first step to resolve the issue and encouraged Coloradans to submit their feedback during the comment period for the report. The FCC issued the report in August 2011 along with feedback from Coloradans and Bennet. The report outlined several potential alternatives to resolve the issue.
Bennet also worked with former Senator Mark Udall to introduce several different bills to allow access to Colorado TV, including a 2014 bill that would allow cable and satellite providers to transmit signals from Colorado-based broadcast stations. Working with the Senate Commerce Committee, Bennet and Udall secured language in the bipartisan Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act that created the path for the finalized rule the FCC announced today. The STELAR Act modernizes rules for satellite and cable providers and broadcast television markets.
Following up on the passage of the STELAR Act, Bennet, along with Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton, wrote a letter to the FCC requesting this rule change so that county commissions in the Four Corners region can petition the FCC directly to change broadcasting markets to better serve their communities.