The CSN Houston Bankruptcy Clown Show Just Keeps Clowning Away
I think it all means that Hughes is going to go all bad cop and try and get the network working. I believe he'll try to force changes to the operating agreements, primarily the unanimous consent provisions and that most-favored nation status bestowed on Comcast. He'll probably tell Crane he has to act as an owner to CSN Houston in the same manner in which he acts as owner of the Astros, and that he can't put the network interests behind the interests of the Astros.
Comcast withdrew its offer to purchase the entire network earlier this week, but I think Hughes will try to force Comcast to make a legit attempt to buy out the Astros, and to make sure the Astros get what's owed. And I believe he will try to order the parties to accept any offer from Direct TV/AT&T that comes close to what Comcast is paying.
But here's the deal. Nobody has to agree with anything. This is an informal meeting and the judge can't make them do anything. He might tell them how he plans to rule, but he can't make them settle, or come to terms, or make offers to buy each other out. Judges like to think they're the most powerful people on earth, but they're not. This is Jim Crane's life, his business, and he can do with this appeal whatever he chooses. He might make Judge Hughes mad, but that's a risk every person appearing before Judge Hughes takes, and if Crane doesn't like what he's hearing, then there's nothing that can force him, or Alexander or Comcast to take a deal.
In the end, this might all turn out to be a good deal. Maybe everybody will see the light and come Opening Day, CSN Houston will suddenly appear on everybody's television. If not, everybody gets an idea of the judge's thinking, and gets a clue as to how the case will go.
As a friend who practices before Judge Hughes told me, welcome to the Clown Show. But this is the Astros, Rockets, Comcast, and CSN Houston and this thing has been a Clown Show since October of 2012.