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Astros seeking resolution for TV rights

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With Opening Day four weeks away, Astros owner Jim Crane said Tuesday his goal was to still have a larger portion of the Houston television market to have access to watching the games this season.

The Astros and Comcast have been battling in the court system for the last few months over television rights fees concerning Comcast SportsNet Houston, the fledgling sports network owned by the Astros, Houston Rockets and Comcast that launched in October 2012.

Only about 40 percent of the Houston TV market has access to Comcast, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy last year. The Astros have sought to dismiss the case so they can retain their broadcast rights or find another carrier.

Crane said Comcast was supposed to make an offer later this week to lend the network more money or put another offer to both the Rockets and Astros.

"We have one position," he said. "Basically, the position has been that we cannot cut a long-term 20-year bad deal. The way this thing is shaping up, the equity we had in the network would be wiped out, and that's a big hit to the team long term."

The Astros contend they've been paid only about half of their rights fees to date.

Meanwhile, Crane said he's still working with Major League Baseball to find a way to stream games online, either through Major League Baseball Advanced Media or Comcast.

"Listen, it's been tough," he said. "When you've got both teams in the city not getting paid for their rights fees and these things continue longer, it needs to be resolved. I think they thought it would go smoother putting it into bankruptcy, but it hasn't. It's gotten worse."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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