Bankruptcy Ruling Keeps CSN Houston Afloat, But No Relief For Cut Off Viewers
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur yesterday "placed the parent company of Comcast SportsNet Houston under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, keeping the regional sports network on the air in hopes that reorganization can break the 16-month-old logjam that has limited TV exposure for the Astros and Rockets," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. However, the ruling "offers no immediate relief to viewers who do not have access to the channel." Dismissal would have "resulted in the almost certain demise" of the network owned by the Astros, Rockets and Comcast through a limited partnership known as Houston Regional Sports Network. However, Isgur's order "assures that it will remain in operation while the three network partners work on a reorganization plan." Reorganization in this case could "result in changes to the ownership structure." Isgur even "broached the possibility that Comcast, which is the Houston area's major cable carrier, could be left out of the new partnership agreement." The Rockets in recent weeks have been "charged with trying to craft a business plan that will make the network profitable." Rockets CEO Tad Brown yesterday said that the team "believed as recently as Monday" that it was "close to a solution." Isgur set a 12:00pm ET hearing for Friday to "begin the next phase of the case" (CHRON.com, 2/4).
CONTINGENCY PLANS: In Houston, Evan Drellich reported Astros Owner Jim Crane has "spoken to MLB Network as he prepares a contingency plan to get the Astros on TV." Crane said, "We've gone out pretty extensively and said no matter what happens here, we hope something gets resolved, (that) we get the games on through this vehicle with Comcast. But if it doesn’t, we’ll be in a position where we can get the games delivered to the fans in some form or fashion with MLB Network. We’ve talked to them. We’re making contingency plans. We want the fans to see the games. We can’t go another year without seeing the games, and same way with the Rockets. They feel the same way.” Crane "last had dialogue with MLB Network on Friday." He said, “I had a long conversation with them. Basically, it depends what happens with Comcast. Somebody’s going to have to run that station and basically produce the games. We either have to produce those outside or produce those with their people that are used to doing that. How that works, and then whether we stream it or whether we go as an adjunct to a channel off of that (isn’t decided)" (CHRON.com, 2/1).