Pitkin County commissioners like GrassRoots right where it’s at

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Jack Hatfield would rather fight than switch – that’s fight Comcast rather than switch television channels to watch GrassRoots TV.

Hatfield and the other Pitkin County commissioners were angry to learn that Comcast is switching GrassRoots from channel 12 to channel 10. The cable TV provider said in a Nov. 3 letter to the county that Comcast is obligated to comply with an order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to Comcast, Denver public TV station KBDI filed for and received “must carry” status from the FCC for the Aspen area. KBDI asked for channel 12. Comcast said it will make the switch Jan. 4. It was unclear from the Comcast letter where the Fox station, currently on channel 10, will be relocated.

Pat Bingham, county community relations director, said Tuesday a Comcast official told her the FCC decision is final and cannot be appealed. The county commissioners were astonished that the county didn’t have any input. They want John Ely, county attorney, to research if the county does, indeed, have recourse in the FCC process. However, the commissioners’ bigger beef is with Comcast.

“Every month, we have something that Comcast does to our viewers,” said Commissioner Patti Clapper.

“It never ends,” agreed Hatfield. Channels get moved and eliminated on a regular basis. The county government has to make a stand now that the switches are affecting the community access station, he said. He wants to take on Comcast.

“I’m willing to do it. The hell with it,” Hatfield said.

Commissioner Michael Owsley also got fired up about the county plan to take a tough stance. “My experience with Comcast is that it’s a bully,” he said.

Alan Feldman, president of GrassRoots’ board of directors, said being changed to channel 10 “is a big deal.” The station has been at channel 12 for all 38 years of its existence and viewers are accustomed to finding it there. GrassRoots doesn’t have the funds to “rebrand itself,” he said.

Feldman urged the county to slow the channel-change process down.

Commissioner Rachel Richards said time is of the essence for the county to get involved in the process. In the bigger scheme of things, she said, it doesn’t make sense that one nonprofit TV station is being forced to move for another.


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