AT&T, DirecTV Reach Last-Minute Deal To Own Reorganized CSN Houston
AT&T and DirecTV will become the "sole owners of the network now known as Comcast SportsNet Houston under a plan of reorganization" filed late last night with a federal bankruptcy court, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The plan was filed "about 12 hours before" today's 10:00am CT status conference before U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur "regarding the 11-month-old Chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving the Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership." The Houston RSN partnership will be "reorganized as a limited liability company with 1,000 common shares" with 40% going to AT&T and 60% to DirecTV Sports Networks. The agreement states interests of HRSN owned by the teams and Comcast "shall be irrevocably canceled and terminated." The involvement of DirecTV and AT&T as owners would indicate that DirecTV and AT&T U-verse would "sign on to carry the Rockets-Astros network, helping ease the carriage crunch that has limited viewership of CSN Houston to no more than" 40% of Houston area TV households. However, Comcast "presumably will continue to carry the network as part of its existing carriage agreement." The agreement also indicates that the reorganized company will "enter into new media rights agreements with the Astros and Rockets, but no terms of those agreements are stated" (CHRON.com, 8/6). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Alex Sherman cited sources as saying that the price of CSN Houston will be a "sticking point for any deal." The RSN "could be worth as little as $100 million or as much as $800 million" (BLOOMBERG.com, 8/6). AT&T and DirecTV are in the process of completing a merger (THE DAILY).
END OF THE LINE: In Boston, Chad Finn reports Dish Network yesterday dropped CSN New England after "ending negotiations on a carrier extension." The contract expired June 30, but both sides "agreed on a month-long extension through July and then two 24-hour extensions in August before Dish Network pulled the plug" yesterday (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/7).