Altitude has been unavailable since August in Comcast Denver and Rocky Mountain areas with 10 states the channel normally reaches, as the two entities are involved in a dispute over the transportation charge Comcast pays for the network and how the channel is in distribution.
Comcast is the dominant television provider in Denver, serving more than half of households. This gives the claim unusual market power in pricing. At the same time, Comcast also owns several regional sports networks across the country, as well as broadcasting rights to some sports broadcast in Denver, including the NHL, which airs on Comcast's own NBC network family.
Altitude signed a transport contract with DirecTV last month that is owned by AT & T, but has no contract with Dish Network or Comcast.
In the meantime, residents of Denver with cable television over Comcast could not track the NHL's avalanche and the Nuggets of the NBA. (Altitude also broadcasts MLS and local lacrosse games as well as high school sports.) Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) chanted the weekend chanting: "Bring our teams back to our screens!" and simultaneously public published a letter to Altitude requesting the conclusion of a contract.
Regional sports networks often work with professional teams, act as middlemen, buy the broadcasting rights of the teams and then sell them to a TV service provider. The networks also produce game broadcasts and provide pre- and post-game shows for these live games as well as other content. Disputes between parties have not been rare in recent years, as television consumers have severely severed the cable. While TV service providers have been trying to pay lower fees and separate local sports programs from basic cable packages, the networks are continuing to seek for greater coverage. The Washington Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is currently not available on Dish Network. Many fans in Los Angeles have not been able to see Dodgers games for several years because cable operators have not paid to transport the network broadcasting the team's games.
However, according to Altitude's complaint, Comcast is trying to enforce conditions – both through lower payments to the network and the relocation of Altitude from its standard cable bundle – that does not mean it will burden the RSNs it owns across the country. The lawsuit also notes that in recent years Comcast has increased a regional sports fee line item for Denver cable customers while informing the network that customers do not want to pay for the channel.
"Every independent RSN should be afraid of what's happening," said Bill Isaacson, a lawyer from the firm of Bois Schiller Flexner, who represents Altitude. "If the concepts they asked for made economic sense, they would all question their RSNs in the same way, and as far as we know they are not."
Comcast claims that the customer viewing information shows that Altitude is a bit of a network that has boosted the total cost of its cable package in Colorado and Utah by asking for annual fee increases, as the network has already agreed to pay the teams.
"This is an unfounded lawsuit in an intensely competitive market in which Comcast has no competitive regional sports network and Altitude has several distribution alternatives," wrote Comcast in the statement. "Instead of conducting groundless litigation, Altitude should conduct responsible trade negotiations that enable Comcast to distribute its programs to those customers who wish to do so without increasing the cost to customers who do not." Comcast, AT & T or Sinclair Broadcasting Corp., which recently paid more than $ 10 billion for around 20 channels. Altitude, together with MASN, the New England Sports Network and MSG Network, is one of the independent regional sports networks.
Altitude is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company controlled by Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Avalanche. Nuggets, Colorado Rapids of MLS and the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.