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Serious about seeking answers and results

The House Joint Resolution that I sponsored supporting efforts to make Denver television available to all customers in southwest Colorado seemed to have hit a snag in its progress.

Because of the geographic overlap of my district with the districts of State Rep. Scott Tipton and State Sen. Bruce Whitehead, I’d asked each to join me on the resolution.

The resolution left the House with unanimous support and headed to the Senate. A resolution is typically viewed as a statement of sorts and isn’t like a bill requiring additional state action once passed. Therefore, resolutions don’t usually involve a lot of discussion or debate and rarely, if ever, are amended in the second chamber. My goal in passing the resolution in this case was to assist the congressional efforts to get the option of Denver television programming into all households in our area.

When the resolution went to the Senate, Sen. Whitehead amended it to send a copy of the resolution to the Colorado Broadcasters Association (CBA) and that amendment didn’t bring about any opposition. A second change was made that instructed the CBA to support the federal pieces of legislation on this issue and to actively lobby for them. This amendment was unacceptable to the CBA because they felt it was inappropriate for the state government to tell a non-profit what their agenda must be.

They have a legitimate and important point, so I rejected that Senate amendment and asked that a conference committee be formed. All but one of the House members voted with me to support rejecting that amendment and the one who didn’t said he voted no because he couldn’t believe that a resolution would need to go to a conference committee.

I share that legislator’s frustrated view of the unusual path the resolution is taking, but I’m serious about seeking answers and possible results, so I’m willing to put the extra time and effort into this. I suggested to the CBA that we have a meeting to discuss what their concerns and what help they could provide; again, I invited the two bill co-sponsors to join us, which they did.

I’m thrilled that at last to be dealing directly with the CBA to discuss the situation. While our meeting began with a testy atmosphere, we worked our way to a mutually agreed upon plan to get more information in seeing our way to possible change affecting the two counties in my district. My hope was that each customer would be able to make the choice of which programming to receive, that is, either from Albuquerque or Denver.

In addition to the president of CBA, one of the board members and their attorney came to the meeting and provided additional information about the challenges before us. Without federal change for the entire country, it isn’t possible to access both Denver and Albuquerque programming at the same time. It also appears that what we might be able to change would be the ability to get Denver news to everyone, like the cable companies provide, but not necessarily full programming from Denver.

The CBA has provided me with names and numbers for the company executives in charge of programming for the satellite companies in our area and they established a direct connection for me with Nielsen’s, the private company that does the research which is the basis for the boundaries of the designated marketing areas for television broadcasting.

I’m in conversation with each of those entities as they look further into our situation and get me answers. I’m organizing another meeting at the Denver Capitol that will include all of the known players to date, including the cable companies, and I will report back to you as we peel back what seems to a very complex onion, with one layer always below the one just peeled off!