SBD/October 23, 2013/Media

Rockets, Astros Differ On Stance In CSN Houston Bankruptcy Issue

Rockets and Astros execs had previously kept the same public stance on the case
The Rockets have "broken ranks with the Astros, their partners in the parent company of Comcast SportsNet Houston, by informing a federal bankruptcy court they agree with a motion by four Comcast affiliates to keep the partnership under Chapter 11 protection," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The 18-page statement filed Monday marks the "first time the Rockets have shown their hand in the contentious disagreement." U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur will "preside next Monday over a hearing on the Astros’ motion to dismiss the case and Comcast’s motion to name an interim trustee for the network." If Isgur "dismisses the case, attorneys for the Rockets say the Astros are likely to reclaim their broadcast rights, which were not paid during the last three months" of the MLB season. The Rockets in a statement said allowing the Astros to pull their rights from CSN Houston “would compel the Rockets entities to terminate the Rockets agreement, thereby causing the network to implode.” The Rockets’ statement generally "strikes a more moderate tone than the sharply worded filings by the Astros and Comcast, although it does agree with Comcast that bankruptcy reorganization is the best way to ensure the network’s survival." Attorneys for the Rockets in a statement said, "The alternative is liquidation, resulting in huge losses for creditors, no return on equity, terminated employees and no ability in the near term for Houston fans to see their favorite teams on television." The Rockets also said the team has "no interest in placing blame on any party as it relates to the current predicament." However, the Rockets "oppose Comcast’s request for an interim trustee." They said naming a trustee “will defeat one of the core purposes of the Chapter 11 process … namely, to bring divergent parties together to forge a consensus that will maximize value for all stakeholders.” Instead, the Rockets propose "naming a 'responsible officer' to run CSN Houston’s day-to-day operations and suggest the court order Comcast, the Astros and Rockets to negotiate for one week" (CHRON.com, 10/22).
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