Cable giant Comcast is being accused — yet again — of throwing its weight around unfairly.
The nation’s largest cable provider, which also owns NBCUniversal, was slapped with an antitrust lawsuit on Monday by Altitude Sports and Entertainment, the official television network of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
The Colorado federal lawsuit claims Comcast, which has a 57 percent market share over the Denver market, “wants to extinguish competition from Altitude” so that it “can pocket more of the money it takes from consumers each month for sports programming.”
The lawsuit says Comcast has increased what it charges Denver-area customers to watch regional sports by 800 percent in recent years — while also refusing to pay increasing carriage fees to Altitude, which owns the rights to that content.
The dispute has kept Nuggets NBA games off Comcast’s airwaves since August.
The suit is the latest in a string of disputes claiming Comcast, headed by billionaire businessman Brian Roberts, has been squeezing the competition.
Comcast is embroiled in a Supreme Court battle with African-American comedian and media mogul Byron Allen, who claims that his race was a “motivating factor” in Comcast’s decision to not carry his channels, which include JusticeCentral.TV, Pets.TV and Recipe.TV.
Comcast said it did not work with Allen’s Entertainment Studios due to low viewership, not racial discrimination. Judges are deliberating on that case, which went before the court last week.
Comcast is also facing Department of Justice scrutiny over its decision in October to charge $12 extra for cable-TV channel Starz — the home of popular shows like “Power,” starring rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
The DOJ has been weighing a possible antitrust probe into the matter as leading US lawmakers including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have expressed concerns to federal law enforcement that the move could be anti-competitive.
A Comcast rep blasted the Altitude suit as a negotiating tactic, saying the two companies have struggled for months to find a common ground over the carriage fee.
“Instead of pursuing baseless litigation, Altitude should engage in responsible commercial negotiations that would allow Comcast to distribute its programming to those customers who want it without driving up costs for customers who do not,” the rep said. “We will vigorously defend ourselves against Altitude’s claims.”