The legal dispute between Comcast and Altitude TV, in which local Avalanche and Nuggets games are being embezzled on the state’s largest cable provider, will continue after a federal judge partially denies Comcast’s motion to dismiss the case.
Altitude, an independent regional sports network owned by Kroenke, says Comcast has negotiated illegal business tactics that “don’t make economic sense” in a plot to buy or eliminate the RSN after their contract expired in September 2019. Comcast claims that Altitude is merging. a “routine commercial disagreement” with a violation of antitrust laws.
Last week, US District Judge William Martinez partially dismissed Comcast’s request to dismiss the case, according to online court reports, allowing it to continue while both parties provide evidence in the discovery phase. Martinez rejected several of Altitude’s claims in its lawsuit, but wrote that it “has enough facts to show that its allegations of anti-competitive behavior are plausible” against Comcast.
“We are pleased that the decision will allow Altitude to proceed with its case to prove that Comcast’s actions are an attempt to monopolize the Denver market,” said William Isaacson, Altitude’s outside adviser to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, to The Denver Post. “The judge’s decision also means that we can get the information we need to prove this claim. We believe the law and the facts will lead to a decision that will prevent Comcast from taking unfair advantage of Denver area sports fans. “
What does that mean for local Avalanche and Nuggets fans with a new season fast approaching?
A possible ruling in Altitude’s favor, forcing Comcast to act in financial terms that the RSN deems acceptable, would effectively end the deadlock. However, it won’t happen anytime soon as the last preliminary conference won’t take place until April 4, 2022. Industry precedent also suggests a jury trial is unlikely.
Public scrutiny of Comcast’s business practices – which threaten significant financial losses and additional lawsuits – could prompt the cable giant to reconsider its ongoing dispute with Altitude. But that is not guaranteed either. Height is still carried by DirecTV.
The financial pressure on Kroenke and Comcast amid the coronavirus pandemic could also force a deal as high-level negotiations are still possible between the two billion entities.
The first game of the preseason for The Nuggets takes place on December 12 at the Golden State Warriors. The Avalanche preseason schedule has yet to be released.