News emerged over the weekend that Comcast SportsNet Houston is the subject of an involuntary bankruptcy filing:
Affiliates of Comcast/NBC Universal filed an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Friday in Houston against Comcast SportsNet Houston, the struggling regional sports network owned by Comcast/NBC Universal, the Rockets and Astros.
The action apparently came as a surprise to the Astros, who are the largest owner in the partnership at 46.384 percent, and said in a statement that they they also had issues with CSN Houston’s failure to pay rights fees to the Astros for the last three months.
A statement from NBC, however, indicated that the filing may be designed to break up the logjam that has thus far prevented the network from getting widespread carriage on cable and satellite affiliates across its five-state region. Under the company’s governance structure, unanimous consent among the four-member board of directors – two from NBC Universal and one each from the Rockets and Astros – is required for approval, according to comments made by company officials earlier this year.
The NBC Universal statement said the Chapter 11 petition was filed “in order to resolve structural issues affecting CSN Houston’s partnership.”
Comcast SportsNet Houston is, of course, an anchor tenant of the struggling Houston Pavilions boondoggle. Mayor Annise Parker celebrated the fact that taxpayers were throwing yet more money at the development in March 2012:
Mayor Annise Parker, always glad to be the bearer of good news, announced Houston’s newest triumph at a windy press conference at the Houston Pavilions on Wednesday [March 7 2012].
Parker hinted at a years-long battle against unnamed rival cities for this particular prize: A multi-million dollar television studio and production facility for Comcast SportsNet Houston, a partnership between the Houston Rockets, the Houston Astros and the NBC Sports Group, housed inside of the Pavilions.
Parker admitted that the Pavilions hasn’t lived up to original hopes, but says the real estate venture still has potential for future development.
Incentives given by the Market Square Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3 will be more than offset, says Parker, by a boost of business to downtown area shops and restaurants.
It remains to be seen whether City Hall’s efforts to pick winners and losers (with taxpayer resources) will ever see much of a return in the case of the Houston Pavilions.
Indeed, it’s probably worth keeping in mind the ongoing Pavilions struggles when we see announcements from Parker Administration task forces pitching yet MORE wealth transfers from taxpayers to developers and other special interests (such as the case with Mayor Parker’s Downtown Retail Task force, which strangely enough, included NOT ONE representative from the retail sector).