HOUSTON (CBS Houston): “We’re dealing with a $60 billion company that’s got a lot of profit. They could fix this thing immediately if they wanted to, and they’re choosing to try to drive the Rockets and ourselves out of the equity, and that’s not a fair deal for us.”
Those verbal shots were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane today when he spoke on CSN Houston about the bankruptcy situation the once-promising network is currently facing.
As part of the bankruptcy reorganization, Comcast wants to take control of the Astros’ equity position in CSN Houston and keep the team’s media rights, something that Astros’ lawyers have stated in court the team will simply not agree to.
Crane’s lawyers have made no bones in court that they feel Comcast went behind the Astros’ back, and secretly solicited affiliates of theirs to force the network into bankruptcy as a means to block Crane from taking back the Astros’ media rights after the network failed to pay rights fees for the second half of the 2013 season.
For over a year, Crane has been made the scapegoat publicly for refusing all potential deals that have come up for CSN Houston to be carried on larger providers such as Direct TV and AT&T U-Verse, but recently the words of the Judge Marvin Isgur, handling the case in federal court, have exonerated Crane.
The judge himself credited Crane for not agreeing to what he called “rotten deals” presented to the Astros owner by Comcast.
The bad blood between the Astros and Comcast has likely reached a point of no return, and Crane wants to get his media rights back, get away from the toxic partnership with Comcast, and get his games on television for Astros fans.
“We feel our rights fees are ours, and they were positioned in the agreement (with CSN Houston) where if it didn’t work out, we could get them back, and we still think that’s the right play for us long term,” Crane stated flatly in assessing where he stands with the network.
Should the Astros succeed in getting their media rights back, Crane said, “We have contingency plans to make sure the fans can watch the games on way or another.”
One of those plans, confirmed earlier last week by the Houston Chronicle, is to have the games air on MLB Network in the Astros 5-state market.