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Dolans Want to Keep Voom-ing

We previously reported that the directors of Cablevision, after a fiery boardroom showdown between the company's founder, Charles Dolan, and its CEO, his son James, voted to sell some of the assets of Cablevision's faltering DBS business Voom to EchoStar, including the satellite Rainbow 1 and the service's uplink facilities. Voom is a pet project of the elder Dolan, and its CEO is his other son, Thomas.

A new press release reports that the remaining assets and liabilities of Voom will be sold to Charles and Thomas, for an unspecified amount. Remaining assets and liabilities include a lease for transponders on the satellite Rainbow 2, various other satellite transponder licenses, the existing subscriber agreements, and the 21 HD channels that are distributed exclusively by Voom. It would appear that Charles and Thomas Dolan intend to keep Voom operating.

Voom, launched in 2003, has made HDTV the pivotal aspect of its business, with 21 exclusive HDTV channels. The programming content of these channels is largely old movies, but plans have previously been announced to inaugurate new HD niche programming and event programming channels. The elder Dolan saw Voom as the future of Cablevision, but his son James saw it as a money pit. It currently has some 26,000 subscribers.

There has previously been speculation that the rift between the Dolan family members might lead to the sale of Cablevision itself. The company is also currently embroiled in a pitched battle to prevent the construction of a proposed New York Jets football stadium over a rail yard on Manhattan's West Side. The proposed stadium is just a stone's throw from Madison Square Garden, which is owned by Cablevision, which sees obvious big-event venue competition. It is also the cornerstone of one of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's pet projects: to persuade the International Olympics Committee to stage a future Summer Games in New York. Cablevision has recently offered the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, owner of the rail yard, $600 million to build a platform over the yard and develop it for mixed residential and retail use, versus the Jets' $100 million offer to build the stadium over it. Stay tuned!