For the record, I want to get this out of the way. Yes, there is more Comcast news. There is progress, but I’m not sure how much.
In fact, chances are, there will be no noticeable progress on being able to watch the Astros take the field Tuesday night. But mediation will be taking place. At least that is what was agreed to on Friday.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, Astros owner Jim Crane and a Comcast executive signed the mediation agreement during a seven-hour, closed-door session Friday with Hughes, who is hearing the Astros’ appeal of an order placing CSN Houston under Chapter 11 protection.
The parties agree in the document to allow Hughes to mediate their dispute and agree that he can continue to preside over the bankruptcy appeal. The order also opens the possibility of more mediation sessions with the judge.
Again, call me cynical, but I will not believe there is actual progress until Comcast is out of bankruptcy, rights fees are paid, and everyone can watch the Astros like it is 2012 all over again. The only way that will happen is if all the parties get in one room, clear their biases, and get serious about making a deal.
Now this is not to suggest that is not what has been going on, but perhaps a mediator would help. There are two main issues that need to be resolved here; people need to be able to watch the Astros, and the team needs to receive their rights fees from the network. While money was spent this off-season, it is certainly not enough, and this will be an ongoing issue.
The network remains on the air and is paying employees and vendors but does not have enough money to pay the Rockets’ rights fees. As of the end of March, the network owes $36 million to the Rockets and $27 million to the Astros.