Comcast Seeks Stay in CSN Houston Chap. 11 Case

Comcast attorneys will meet with a U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday seeking an emergency stay as it looks to reverse a bankruptcy court decision allowing the sale of its regional sports network in Houston to DirecTV and AT&T.

The cable company, whose NBC Sports Group has operated Comcast Sports Net Houston, is slated for a  hearing with judge Lynne Hughes on Nov. 5. Comcast, if the stay is not granted, is also expected to make an immediate appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the CSN Houston reorganization plan, which calls for DirecTV and AT&T to purchase the embattled service with the former operating it under its Root Sports umbrella.

On Oct. 30, bankruptcy court judge Marvin Isgur approved a plan supported by MLB’s Houston Astros and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Isgur reorganization would result in the teams and Comcast losing their equity positions in the RSN, which has been under Chapter 11 protection since September 2013.

The plan calls for AT&T, DirecTV and Comcast to carry the rebranded service, with an eye toward Roots Sports Houston tipping off on Nov 14.

Comcast deems Isgurs ruling “unlawful in several ways,” notably in that the MSO is not allowed to receive full payment of a $100 million secured loan that was used by the RSN for start-up costs, a studio build-out and early right fees payments to the clubs.

Launched in October 2012, CSN Houston never gained distribution traction beyond Comcast and a handful of smaller providers in the Houston DMA, and, as such, was unable to pay rights fees and meet other expense obligations.