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Altitude-Comcast gaming outage prompts Colorado lawmakers to introduce arbitration bill

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Altitude-Comcast gaming outage prompts Colorado lawmakers to introduce arbitration bill

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Growing frustration surrounding the ongoing dispute between Altitude TV and Comcast has prompted Colorado lawmakers to draft a bill that could force regional sports networks and Colorado cable companies into arbitration to avoid prolonged outages.

If passed, the attorney general could mandate non-binding mediation for any renewal dispute that lasted at least six weeks after a contract expired. Proponents of the bill, which is expected to be introduced on Friday, still debate whether they would still try to pass legislation to prevent future blackouts if Altitude TV and Comcast reach a deal soon, but they consider the proposed current law as a necessary step.

“In a perfect world, we shouldn’t have to do this,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Northglenn Democrat and sponsor of the bill. “They are adults who have a lot of resources.”

The Altitude-Comcast outage dates back to September 2019, with Colorado subscribers missing nearly three full seasons of Avalanche, Nuggets and Rapids games on local television broadcasts.

Mullica is sponsoring the bill with House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Democrat from Denver. They said they had bipartisan support for the policy idea they had been working on since the last legislative session ended after the Nuggets made the playoffs.

Garnett said the dispute is “destroying a generation of fans” who cannot watch their home teams play. Any movement toward a resolution, he added, has moved “at a snail’s pace,” so Colorado residents expect their leaders to do something if the companies fail to reach a resolution. OK.

“It’s just kind of a tragedy that this regional sports network fight is centered entirely in Colorado, and we’re the ones bearing the brunt of it,” Garnett said.

Both sides’ legal teams are due to meet Feb. 23 for a settlement conference in their ongoing antitrust lawsuit. Altitude had claimed in court documents that Comcast negotiated its new contract with business tactics that “make no economic sense” in an effort to eliminate or buy the regional sports network. Last month, Altitude announced plans for a revised contract proposal in hopes of ending the TV blackout.

“We hope that by working through a mediator, Altitude can return to Comcast without raising the price for our fans to watch their local teams,” Matt Hutchings, COO of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement. December press release. . “We have worked diligently to achieve this goal.”

Altitude TV and Comcast did not immediately return requests for comment on Friday.

Altitude-Comcast gaming outage prompts Colorado lawmakers to introduce arbitration bill

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