The Dream Shake - SBNation's Rockets blog - posted about the possibility of CSN Houston's demise back in July, quoting a source in response to David Barron's Chronicle story indicating that CSN Houston "has been a bust," and wouldn't likely get a carriage deal until 2015 .
A Rockets source indicated that CSN Houston might not last that long. In fact, he noted that without a deal with the majority of carriers in the next year, the network might go under for good.
So yesterday (Friday, September 27) the affiliates of Comcast/NBC Universal filed an involuntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petition against CSN Houston.
First things first, and I am qualified to report on this because I took the LSAT in college as I, at the time, wanted to be Bob Sugar, and I'm decent at Googling things : Involuntary Chapter 11 Bankruptcy comes when a company is facing financial distress and its creditors force the company into bankruptcy. Even is CSN Houston doesn't consent, they can be forced into bankruptcy by Comcast/NBC Universal.
Barron says the petition came as a surprise to the Astros, who responded late last night with their own strong-to-quite-strongly worded statement:
Comcast has improperly filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition in an attempt to prevent the Astros from terminating the Media Rights Agreement between the Astros and Houston Regional Sports Network. HRSN failed to pay the Astros media rights fees in July, August and September, and we have invested additional money in order to keep the network viable through our season...
Despite not receiving our media rights fees, our objective has not changed. We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships.
So the Astros haven't been getting paid by the network the Astros (and Rockets) created, and have been using their own money keep the network alive. That's...not good, right? But all may not be lost for the CSN Houston. This law office's guide to bankruptcy indicates that this can be the beginning of a successful strategy"
Involuntary bankruptcy petitions can be useful in those situations where you simply don’t know what happened. One of your best customers suddenly goes belly up without notice. Typically, creditors suspect foul play, which may not always be the case. Rather than just letting the company dissolve and disappear, creditors often find an involuntary bankruptcy petition a useful tool in conducting an “autopsy” of the debtor’s business. While creditors may or may not ultimately see a distribution from the bankruptcy, it can be insightful to have an organized and open examination of the debtor’s business and financial demise.
CSN Houston will remain on the air through what will likely be a lengthy process, broadcasting Rockets games for those of you who actually get CSN Houston. Add this to the long list of to-do items to get the Astros back to national, and even, local relevance.