Posts Tagged sports

What’s The Verdict: Comcast and Houston Sports battle over bankruptcy and alleged scheming, who is behind it?

What’s The Verdict: Comcast and Houston Sports battle over bankruptcy and alleged scheming, who is behind it?

Houston Regional Sports Network has been in an involuntary bankruptcy phase but most recently, a litigation trustee filed a complaint accusing Comcast of doing everything in its power to impair the Network in an attempt to acquire the rights to broadcast Houston Astros (baseball) and Houston Rockets (basketball) games at a significant discount.

Robert Ogle makes clear that the cable giant has a track record of poor customer service and that since Houston Regional Sports Network was set up in 2003, they have experienced Comcast’s ‘dishonesty’ firsthand.  It was in 2010 that Comcast became a partner with a 22.5 percent interest in the network and the teams, Astros and Rockets, owned the rest of the percentage.  At this point, Comcast said it would use its power to achieve promised rates, gave an advanced loan for $100 million, amongst other things.  In addition, the sports teams granted the Network exclusive rights to games through the year 2032 for hundreds of millions.  This all happened in 2010 and then in 2013 is where problems arise.

The complaint (filed by the Network) asserts that Comcast has been doing everything in its power to acquire its primary and most valuable assets, the right to telecast programming related to Houston Astros and Houston Rockets, as well as the right to receive revenue from affiliation agreements with MVPDs that carry CSN Houston.  What’s interesting is that Houston Regional Sports Network was never able to reach affiliations with a major MVPD; thus, the lawsuit claims this was intentional on Comcast’s part.  Other regional sports networks owned by Comcast were able to make deals but the major difference is that with these other networks, Comcast owned most, if not all, of the equity.

In effect, Houston Regional Sports Network began to experience liquidity constraints because they couldn’t make any big distribution deals.  This caused the Astros and Rockets to offer to sell their own equity to Comcast, but they didn’t take the offer.  So what happened next? The financial situation of Houston’s Regional Sports Network continued to grow worse, which eventually led to a buy-out offer from Comcast at a much lower price.  Mr. Ogle says that all of it was part of Comcast’s plan and that Houston’s RSN was basically a scheme.  How was it a scheme?

Comcast would put the Debtor (HRSN) into bankruptcy and automatically its value would drop substantially. With that, Comcast would make a statement of its intention to offer a great amount of money to acquire the Debtor plus assets, which would scare away other potential buyers.  Once it was clear that Comcast was the only likely buyer,  Comcast could buy the Debtor plus assets at an even smaller price than it had stated.  This is because there would be no other buyers  so HRSN would have no other option but to take the offer regardless of how small it was.

Point being, Rockets and Astros were in terrible position and the truth is that Comcast played a role in this.  The teams ended up selling to AT&T and DirectTV for $5000 which is a lesser value than they would’ve made if they simply liquidated all their assets in 2013.  Comcast of course denies all claims and allegations as entirely without merit.

What do you think will happen? Stay tuned for more on What’s The Verdict!

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What’s The Verdict: Will FIFA officials win their challenge to dismiss conspiracy/ criminal charges and the 2nd civil case based on lack of jurisdiction?

What’s The Verdict: Will FIFA officials win their challenge to dismiss conspiracy/ criminal charges and the 2nd civil case based on lack of jurisdiction?

The Department of Justice has brought a criminal indictment against current and former executives of FIFA for bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, and more. While there is a criminal case based on the indictments being handled by a federal judge located in New York, there is a civil lawsuit taking place in California.  A California federal judge Phyllis Hamilton is being asked to take a closer look at this action in response to a very large, international body of soccer-fans are quite angry with the DOJ claiming both harassment and seeking sanctions.  U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton will be handling the civil case regarding claims that FIFA has been negligent in the monitoring and treatment of head injuries.

The civil suit was filed in August 2014 after a bundle of concussion-related litigation against other professional sports leagues.  (I can assume this likely included American football)  The complaint at hand alleges that “FIFA presides over this epidemic” of head injuries “and is one of its primary causes. By this lawsuit, Plaintiff seek to require FIFA to become part of the cure.”

From the get-go, the class action suit would inevitably face a jurisdictional challenge and in response, FIFA, of course, moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.  In other words, it would be very difficult to convince a judge that Switzerland based company was susceptible to a tort lawsuit inside a California courtroom. Then, in the beginning of May, Judge Hamilton suggested that FIFA would released based on lack of jurisdiction.

So, the civil suit was filed in August 2014 then just a couple weeks ago, FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland and charged for racketeering conspiracies, amongst other criminal acts.  Controversy erupted.  Many debated whether or not the Justice Department even had the authority to bring action against foreign nationals.  The U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch made a statement that, “In many instances, defendants and their co-conspirators planned aspects of their scheme during meetings held here in the United States; they used the banking and wire facilities of the United States to distribute the bribe payments; and the planned to profit from their scheme in late part through promotional efforts directed at the growing U.S. market for soccer.”  The key here is that some ‘conspiracy’ occurred on American soil, which does give the federal court system jurisdiction.

All in all, it appears that the federal court has jurisdiction of the criminal case, but it may be the case that the civil lawsuit is not subject to general jurisdiction.  In addition, FIFA’s attorneys are making it crystal clear that there is no connection between the allegations of corruptions and the lawsuit addressing head injuries.  With that, FIFA attorneys are arguing that the plaintiff’s claims are purely harassment and completely unrelated. This is what I mentioned first about a large, international body that is very upset.

What’s going to happen next? It may be the case that the foreign national challenge the jurisdiction for the criminal indictment, but in the meantime the CA judge will determine whether the court is authorized to preside over the civil lawsuit.  Do you think the case will stay within jurisdiction? Stay tuned for updates on What’s The Verdict!

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NBA Shells Out $500 Million to 1976 ABA Merger Hold Outs

Apparently good things do come to those who wait! The NBA reportedly reached a $500 million deal over a dispute stemming from the 1970s merger with the American Basketball Association (ABA). The history of the deal goes back to 1976 when the ABA was failing financially, the two associations attempted to merge but there was only room for four teams. The NBA offered the doomed franchises close to $3 million each to shut their doors forever. The owners of the St. Louis team at the time, Daniel and Ozzie Silna, held out and eventually received “visual media” rights.

Allegedly, both the NBA and the Silna’s regret shaking on the deal, for different reasons of course. The Silnas believed they were entitled to revenue from international broadcast, the NBA’s cable network, digital streaming and other sources of revenue that did not exist in 1976. The parties reported earlier in the week they reached a conditional settlement in which the Silna’s will received $500 million up front as well as continued television revenue with the possibility they can be bought out at a later time. Most notably, the $500 million settlement is in addition to the estimated $300 million the Silnas have already received throughout the years. 

Do you think the NBA and the Silnas came to a fair deal, here? 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/nba-settles-historic-dispute-tv-668931

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Hugh Douglas Leaves ESPN

ESPN has split with Hugh Douglas, co-host of Numbers Never Lie over a racially charged altercation. He allegedly had an altercation with co-host Michael Smith and screamed racial slurs at him. He tweeted his leave from ESPN yesterday morning. 

 

http://www.deadline.com/interstitial/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.deadline.com%2F2013%2F08%2Fespn-fired-hugh-douglas-uncle-tom%2F

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