Altitude-Comcast blackout: Colorado lawmakers end effort to force mediation during sports team blackouts

A proposed law, spurred by the ongoing dispute between Altitude TV and Comcast, to require professional sports networks and cable providers to submit to arbitration to avoid prolonged blackouts was abandoned Thursday.

Colorado lawmakers in the House Committee on Business Affairs & Labor unanimously killed HB22-1058 at the request of sponsor Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Northglenn Democrat.

The bill would have allowed the attorney general to mandate nonbinding mediation for any renewal disputes that have lasted at least six weeks after a contract has expired.

Mullica said he requested that the bill be postponed indefinitely because Altitude TV and Comcast are scheduled to meet for mediation in June and lawmakers wanted to give them an opportunity to fix the issue.

“Our goal with this legislation was to do everything we could to bring the parties together to end this impasse and get our teams back on TV,” Mullica said in a statement. “With the parties having agreed to mediation, moving forward with the bill won’t make them reach an agreement any faster. Nurses, teachers, parents and hardworking Coloradans everywhere just want to watch our teams.”

The mediation efforts between the two entities are nearing five months since the regional sports network announced it would make a revised contract offer to the cable giant. They are next scheduled to meet June 2, according to the latest online court filings. It is unknown when Altitude last made a contract proposal to Comcast.

“I think it’s just really frustrating to be a fan right now, and it’s disappointing that both entities are putting money before the fans,” Mullica told The Denver Post. “Our goal was to just get the games back on TV for the fans to enjoy. I think we pushed the issue, and I’ll be prepared if they don’t figure it out.”

The Altitude-Comcast blackout started in September 2019 when the contract expired, resulting in Colorado subscribers missing full seasons of Avalanche, Nuggets and Rapids games on local TV broadcasts.

Progress toward a resolution is unclear because “one of the conditions the parties agreed to when entering mediation was that KSE and Altitude would not issue any public comments on matter related to the mediation while it is ongoing,” Altitude said in an April 7 statement provided to The Denver Post. A request for comment from Altitude on Thursday was not returned.

Leslie Oliver, a spokesperson for Comcast, said in an email that “Comcast remains open to considering contract terms which would allow Comcast to show the games to those customers who want to subscribe to the games without raising rates for all Comcast customers.”

The Avalanche season is in the playoffs and the Nuggets season is now over, so Mullica said if Altitude and Comcast can’t come to a resolution soon, he will be prepared to bring forward a bill at the start of the next legislative session. Mullica is running for election this year as the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 24.

Reporter Kyle Fredrickson contributed to this story.

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