The height has been unavailable since August in Comcast homes in the Denver market and the 10-state Rocky Mountain area that the channel normally reaches, as the two entities have been involved in a dispute over the transportation fee Comcast pays the network and how the channel is distributed.
Comcast is the dominant TV provider in Denver, offering service to more than half of the homes, which, according to the lawsuit, provides unusual market power when it comes to setting prices. At the same time, Comcast also owns several regional sports networks around the country, in addition to broadcasting the rights to some sports flying in Denver, including the NHL, broadcast by the Comcast-owned NBC network family.
reached a carriage agreement with DirecTV, owned by AT&T, last month, but has not entered into an agreement with Dish Network or Comcast.
Regional sports networks often collaborate with professional teams, act as middle men, buy the teams broadcasting rights, and then sell them to a TV provider. The networks also produce game broadcasts and provide pre- and postgame shows for the live games, as well as other content. Disputes between parties have not been rare in recent years, as TV consumers have cut the cord in large numbers. While TV providers have been trying to pay lower fees and move local sports programming from basic cable packages, networks continue to seek higher distribution levels. Mid-Atlantic Sports Network in the Washington area is not yet available on Dish Network. Many Los Angeles fans have not been able to watch Dodgers games for years because cable operators have not paid to carry the network that broadcasts the team's games.
However, according to Altitude's complaint, Comcast is trying to impose terms – both through lower payment to the network and by moving Altitude from its basic cable package – that it does not impose the RSNs it owns around the country. The lawsuit also notes that Comcast has increased an article for a regional sports charge for Denver cable customers in recent years, just as it has told the network that customers do not want to pay for the channel.
"Any independent RSN should be scared of what's happening," said Bill Isaacson, attorney for the firm of Bois Schiller Flexner, the firm representing Altitude. "If the terms they asked for made sense, they would have asked for the same of all their RSNs, and as far as we know they are not."
Comcast claims that the customer subsidy information shows that the altitude is a little-guarded network that has pushed up the total cost of its cable package in Colorado and Utah by asking for annual fee increases due to the fixed prices the network has already agreed to pay the teams.
"This is an issue without a case in an intensely competitive market where Comcast has no competitive regional sports network and Altitude has multiple distribution options," Comcast wrote in the statement. "Instead of baseless litigation, Altitude should engage in responsible commercial negotiations that allow Comcast to distribute programming to those customers who want it without increasing costs for customers who do not."
The majority of RSNs are owned by either Comcast, AT&T or Sinclair Broadcasting Corp., which recently paid more than $ 10 billion for around 20 channels. Altitude, along with MASN, New England Sports Network and MSG Network, are among the independently owned regional sports networks.
Altitude is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company controlled by Stan Kroenke, owner of Avalanche, Nuggets, Colorado Rapids of MLS and NFL's Los Angeles Rams.