TV Orphans to FCC: Please, Can We Have Some More


WASHINGTON — Some satellite-TV customers and broadcasters are squaring off in Colorado (and the edges of New Mexico) over TV-station carriage.

The STELAR law reauthorization that renewed the satellite distant-signal license for the first time said the Federal Communications Commission could grant requests by county government officials to modify satellite markets to include out-of-market TV stations.

The new rules mirror that for cable operators, who can already import significantly viewed stations that may have been gerrymandered out of local markets due to DMAs that cross state lines. The issue was a hot-button one, with legislators with football-fan constituents denied the games of their local teams, for example.

There appear to a lot of TV station orphans in La Plata County, Colo. Four of the five most active dockets, according to the FCC, are commenters from La Plata who say they are tired of getting Albuquerque stations and want access to Colorado broadcasters.

Albuquerque stations are pushing back, saying there are other ways — like only importing local news and public affairs programming — rather than importing the entire station signal into their markets.

“Although access to in-state Denver stations may serve the board’s interest in certain news programming of statewide interest to all Coloradans in general (including news from the state capitol), there is no evidence that such programming focuses on responding to local issues, needs and interests — community news, weather, sports and public affairs — in La Plata or other geographically distant Colorado communities,” Hearst, owner of KOB-TV and KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, told the FCC. “It is the Albuquerque stations (not the Denver stations) that are providing such localized programming that has a nexus to the needs and interests of La Plata County residents.”

The FCC has yet to take action on the petitions, which Colorado regulators signaled at an oversight hearing earlier this year they would like to see some action on.