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04.13.2005 12:00AM
Cablevision to Shut Down Voom (Again)

For the second time in recent months (and apparently this time for good), Cablevision Communications will shut down its HD-heavy Voom DBS service, apparently bringing to a close one of the most public corporate family feuds in memory. CVC Chairman Charles Dolan, 78, the patriarch, had tried to keep Voom afloat day-by-day with his own money as he bought some valuable time to secure $400 million to keep the premium service alive. His nemesis: CVC's 49 year-old CEO James Dolan, his son, who also kept Voom subscribers, Wall Street and industry observers speculating about what might happen next.

Finally last week, CVC--the largest MSO in the greater New York region--disclosed in a regulatory filing that its board voted to close Rainbow DBS, the subsidiary that had operated Voom, which had lost hundreds of millions in revenue for CVC in recent years. Also, for the second time in recent months, CVC has agreed to sell its Voom-dedicated satellite to EchoStar. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the end, even the elder Dolan wound up voting to end the Voom service.

By last weekend, Voom's Web site still appeared to be doing business as usual, offering discount incentives for new subscribers and not noting anything on its home page about its fate. However, several of its links took consumers, analysts and curious media types to this stark message:

Voom will cease to provide service to customers on April 30, 2005. New customer orders are no longer being accepted, and we are unable to complete any scheduled installation or service appointments. You will be contacted regarding any scheduled appointment.

Voom managed to attract fewer than 46,000 subscribers and sucked about $1.5 billion from the MSO, overall. There were reports that despite Voom's demise, CVC would attempt to sell off some of the service's unique HD channels to other providers (a tactic it has had success with in the past).


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