Comcast Considering Appeal in CSN Houston Bankruptcy

Attorneys for Comcast on Friday had filed papers as part of the process to seek an appeal of a decision in the Comcast SportsNet Houston bankruptcy case.

A spokesman for NBC Sports Group said lawyers had submitted documents that were part of the process that could result in an appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in light of an Oct. 8 decision by judge Marvin Isgur that Comcast’s affiliation agreement to distribute the embattled regional sports network was without value since its September 2013 bankruptcy petition and its subsequent fiscal losses.

Isgur on Oct. 21 will hold another hearing on the plan that would remove CSN Houston from bankruptcy by selling it to AT&T and DirecTV. The plan calls for the RSN to operate under DirecTV’s Roots Sports banner, which would be carried by the telco, the satellite leader and Comcast, which is the top distributor in the Houston DMA.

Under that plan, MLB’s Houston Astros, the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Comcast would lose their equity in CSN Houston, while 96 of its 141 staffers would be out of a job.

With a monthly subscriber license fee in the $3.40 neighborhood, CSN Houston never gained distribution traction beyond Comcast and a few smaller providers in the Houston DMA, much less with DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Time Warner Cable, Suddenlink, Charter and Verizon, among others, in its five-state TV territory that also stretches to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.

As such, the RSN never generated nearly enough affiliate revenues to pay the teams their rights fees and meet its bills.

According to the Houston Chronicle, if Isgur certifies his decision for the appeal, Comcast would have 30 days to appeal to the 5th Circuit, which would have the option to accept or decline to take the case.

Although it appears that Comcast is moving in that direction, a determination to proceed with the appeals request had not yet been made as of Friday afternoon, according to the spokesman.