Altitude-Comcast blackout: Lawmakers drop bill meant to end sports broadcasting dispute

Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green
Jed Jacobsohn/AP
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic passes the ball as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green defends during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Colorado lawmakers voted Wednesday to indefinitely postpone a bill that aimed to force a conclusion in the three-year long contract dispute between regional sports broadcaster Altitude Sports and Comcast, the state’s largest cable provider. 

HB22-1058 would have given Colorado’s attorney general the power to force a cable provider and regional sports networks to go through nonbinding mediation for disputes that last for more than six weeks after a contract expires. Although it didn’t name the two entities, Rep. Kyle Mullica and House Speaker Alec Garnett drafted the bill with Altitude and Comcast in mind. 

The contract dispute has persisted since the companies’ original deal expired in 2019, leaving Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids fans scrambling to find alternative ways to watch games

Mullica told the House Committee of Business Affairs and Labor that Comcast and Altitude were aware of the bill and have indicated they were willing to come to an agreement without government interference. 

“I've had multiple conversations with both of them and they realized the state legislature is paying attention and they were willing to take action if they can,” Mullica said. 

Mullica warned the two companies that he would not hesitate to reintroduce the bill next session if the blackout continues. 

“I want to be clear on the record that if that’s not effective then I think this is something we need to revisit as a legislature,” he said. 

The House Committee voted 11-0 to postpone the bill indefinitely. Some lawmakers remarked they only did so because one of the bill’s cosponsors requested they do so, cosigning Mullica’s warning.

“For many families, the only option has been for the last two years to go pay possibly hundreds of dollars per ticket if you’re lucky, to get in to see a game in person. That’s just not a reasonable option for many families,” Rep. Kevin Van Winkle said. 

The three teams covered by Altitude have all had successful seasons since the blackout started. 

The Denver Nuggets were eliminated from the NBA playoffs Wednesday night by the Golden State Warriors after a five game run, but star center Nikola Jokic is the league’s reigning MVP and a finalist to win the award for the second time in a row. Meanwhile, the Avalanche are first place in their division, with two games left in the season. The Rapids reached the MLS playoffs last season with the best record in their conference, but were eliminated in the semifinals. They are currently 2-3-3.

Stan Kroenke owns both Altitude and the three teams it broadcasts. CPR News has reached out to Comcast and Altitude for comment. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.