Comcast and the Colorado-based Altitude Sports channel are scheduled to meet on February 23 to discuss a settlement of their two year long carriage dispute, according to the Denver Post, citing online court documents. Altitude says it will make a new offer to Comcast prior to the meeting.
The two companies have been engaged in a bitter dispute since the cable operator lost the regional sports network in September 2019 when their carriage pact expired.
Altitude has the local TV rights to the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, but the blackout has made it very difficult for Denver area fans to watch their favorite teams. Comcast is the largest cable operator in the market. DIRECTV carries Altitude, but Dish does not.
After the fee fight began, Altitude sued Comcast, claiming it used illegal negotiating tactics to either purchase the channel or force it out of business. The cable op denied the charge and the two have been occasionally appearing in court to defend their positions.
However, Altitude revealed earlier this month that it has agreed to enter mediation with Comcast to settle the case and, hopefully, return to its cable TV lineup. This came after the case judge ordered the two companies to appear in court last week to offer solutions for how the case would be resolved.
“It is our hope that by working through a mediator, Altitude will be able to return to Comcast without raising the price for our fans to watch their local teams,” said Matt Hutchings, chief operating officer of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which owns the channel. “We have worked diligently toward that goal.”
In the press release, Altitude said it will make a revised offer to Comcast with the hope that this will lead to a lawsuit settlement and carriage. Comcast issued a statement to The Denver Post that said it was open to carriage if it would “allow Comcast to show the games in a way that avoids raising rates for our customers regardless of whether they watch the channel.”
The settlement meeting doesn’t mean the two companies will ultimately agree on terms. But the mediation, and the judge apparently looking over their collective shoulder, could finally deliver what Nuggets and Avalanche fans have been waiting for since 2019.
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— Phillip Swann