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EDITORIAL: Lights, camera...

June 22, 2019
In The News


If Southwest Colorado shopped on the Front Range rather than in Albuquerque, Denver’s TV stations would be eager to extend their signals to this corner of the state.

But Southwest Colorado does not. The Acuras, Volvos and Porsches are purchased and serviced in Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque airport is a favorite lower-cost outlet across lower latitudes. Interspersed are visits to the Albuquerque zoo and to Old Town, to a few casinos and to the multi-acre-sized shopping malls. The route is downhill and mostly open in the winter.

It is anecdotal, but at six and a half hours distance over three passes and across the big-sky San Luis Valley, rather than on mostly a four-lane highway for four hours, Denver does not seem to receive nearly the same volume of personal and commercial traffic from this corner of the state.

With Albuquerque stations rather than Denver’s, there is often a Dallas Cowboys’ football game which takes precedent over the Broncos, and the fast-paced flow of New Mexico political ads prior to an election. We get New Mexico’s regular shootings and auto accidents and not the traffic flow on I-70 into the mountains and Denver’s civic goings-on.

The weather at 10 p.m. from Albuquerque’s perspective includes only about a 20-mile band across southern Colorado. Not many changes in the weather for Durango begin in our neighboring state to the south.

Enter the federal government.

After at least a couple of decades of effort by state and local political powers, and local economic groups, last week, the Federal Communications Commission upheld a 2017 decision forcing Denver’s ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS affiliates to make their signals available to La Plata and Montezuma counties through satellite providers such as Direct TV and DISH. That ruling, however, does not include cable systems, whose channel offerings are allowed to be decided by their owners.

Thanks to Rep. Scott Tipton and senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and the local organizations and leaders who have put so many words to paper to link the two counties to Colorado’s capital city and adjacent counties.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, elected just last November, immediately put his shoulder to the wheel, as well. That was welcome.

No one in Colorado was against the inclusion, understandably; only the ad-selling television stations in Albuquerque were.

The FCC ruling requires the stations and satellite providers to apply reasonable speed to link their respective technologies to make the programming travel to La Plata and Montezuma counties. There will be great cheering when that is completed, surely before an early football match-up bumps the Broncos.

The counties along any state’s state line can be disconnected from their state’s political and economic core, but this has been an extreme example. “Orphan counties,” indeed.

If not champagne then craft beer should flow when the four Denver stations throw the switch for satellite connectivity. We hope the cable companies follow after.

Congratulations to all involved.