Baldwin Reintroduces Bill to Extend Wis. TV Signals North

Sen. Tammy Baldwin's bill would extend coverage of some Wisconsin-based TV signals farther north. Sen. Tammy Baldwin's bill would extend coverage of some Wisconsin-based TV signals farther north. |  Photo: U.S. Senate

Jon Ellis, WDIO-TV
Created: September 10, 2019 07:44 PM

With the first of several annual Vikings-Packers TV conflicts a few weeks away, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has reintroduced a bill to extend the reach of Wisconsin TV stations farther north.


The Sept. 22, Dec. 8, and Dec. 29 conflicts are not dates when the teams will be playing each other — they're dates when the Packers and Vikings are playing other teams, but on the same network at the same time.  That means many TV viewers in a dozen northwestern Wisconsin counties who receive Minnesota-based TV stations won't be able to receive the Packers games.

"Every Packers fan across our state should be able to watch every Packers game," said Senator Baldwin in a news release. "My Go Pack Go Act would give Packers fans in every Wisconsin county the opportunity to receive in-state broadcasts, so they can cheer on our beloved green and gold."

The Wisconsin Democrat's "Go Pack Go" bill would make major changes to current federal regulations to not only allow, but require, northwestern Wisconsin cable and satellite providers to carry some Wisconsin-based network affiliates.  The change would import not only the Packers games, but other news and network programming year-round.

Baldwin introduced the same legislation last year, but it did not get a hearing.

The legislation would not affect over-the-air viewers.  A dozen counties in northwestern Wisconsin are part of Minnesota-based TV markets because viewers in those counties watch Duluth or Minneapolis-based TV stations more than Wisconsin stations.

Existing federal regulations largely prevent cable and satellite providers from importing network affiliates from other TV markets. There are some exceptions for small cable systems and cable systems in counties where the Wisconsin signals have historic viewership.

A separate 2014 change to federal law allowed local governments or TV stations to petition the Federal Communications Commission to allow in-state signals to be carried on satellite TV.  In Wisconsin, a pair of Wausau stations successfully petitioned to be added to satellite lineups in Ashland and Iron counties, and the Washburn County government recently collected petition signatures for a similar effort to import Eau Claire and La Crosse stations.


Jon Ellis, WDIO-TV

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