TV access

Receiving in-state television programs should not require an act of Congress

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is the latest in a long line of elected officials trying to get Colorado television stations for Southwest Colorado residents.

That seems like such a simple, sensible move, yet for decades, it has been impossible to accomplish. Politicians aren’t alone in their advocacy. Cable companies and television translator district officials have tried, and television viewers certainly have.

Will an act of Congress work? Maybe (although this is not the first try), but one should not be necessary. Congress has more important things to do, and even if it didn’t, the federal government should not be in the business of deciding which state’s news we can watch on television.

That is simply nonsensical, as is the idea that this area is tied more closely to New Mexico than to Denver. Montezuma and La Plata counties currently are part of Albuquerque’s designated market area. Indisputably, that city is nearer than Denver. Then again, Albuquerque is also closer to Archuleta County, which receives Colorado programming.

The arguments for the Four Corners Television Access Act of 2012 are obvious. Denver is the seat of Colorado’s government. The Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies and Avalanche play there. And the idea a Colorado congressman may buy television advertising from an Albuquerque station to reach his constituents is bizarre.

Nowhere in Colorado is New Mexico the dominant influence, but that is no longer a relevant idea anyway. Twenty-first century Americans are mobile and wired. Those with LDS ties may look toward Utah. Snowbirds may want to know what’s happening in Arizona. Transplants want news from home, and there is no real impediment to receiving it. Websites, including the Herald’s, cross boundaries without a hiccup.

Tipton’s bill has bipartisan support. It would allow “significantly viewed” Colorado programming to be made available to local viewers, who would not have to give up Albuquerque access. What “significantly viewed” might mean, beyond Broncos games, is unclear, but state news would count.

That would involve a change in rules that currently keep some content exclusive to a single viewing area. Professional sports, and their huge advertising revenue, will be central to that discussion. But such a discussion really should not be necessary.

Such restrictions are a relic of broadcast days. Sure, some technological changes will be necessary, and service providers should be free to make them or not, as a business decision. Thanks to the Broncos, that decision probably will be an easy one.

Who could have predicted that in 2012 this would be an issue? Let’s hope Tipton can make it go away once and for all.