Breaking News Archives

Dec 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Posted Friday, Dec. 28, at 10:30 a.m. (PT)

Cablevision cuts 600 jobs

Cablevision Systems Corp., the big multiple system cable operator that serves 3 million households in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas, is cutting its workforce by some 4 percent, eliminating approximately 600 full-time jobs.

The cuts come in “corporate, administrative and infrastructure functions across various business units of the company,” according to a Cablevision statement, and are “not expected” to effect its consumer telecommunications, customer relations and field service operations. Cablevision will take a one-time fourth-quarter 2001 restructuring charge of approximately $55 million related to employee severance, as well as to “facility realignment and other related costs.”

At the end of November, Cablevision announced price increases for its cable service in the new year that it said will average 5.5 percent. Those increases reflected “increased programming and operating costs, inflation, continued investment in customer service and network upgrades to provide digital services and enhance system reliability,” according to a company statement at the time.

Those price increases came approximately one week after the MSO and sports team owner posted a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss, which was generally attributed to writing off the contract of New York Knicks basketball player Larry Johnson, who opted for early retirement. As a result, Cablevision cut its full-year cash-flow estimates for its MSG unit, which includes both the Knicks basketball and Rangers hockey teams, as well as Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.

A Cablevision spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company’s statement when asked if there will be additional cutbacks or if the 600 jobs cut in the final week of 2001 are because of the company’s recent third-quarter losses.

“It is always very difficult to reduce staff, however, it is also imperative that Cablevision position itself to achieve maximum operational results,” said Cablevision President and CEO James Dolan in the statement. “Today’s announcement is an outgrowth of a thorough strategic review of 2002 and beyond.”

FTC OKs AOL Time Warner’s Internet provider additions: The Federal Trade Commission Thursday gave America Online/Time Warner a green light to add four non-affiliated Internet providers to its broadband system. Inter.net will be carried nationwide; New York Connect will be available in New York City; Internet Junction will serve Tampa Bay and central Florida; and STIC.net will be carried in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, Texas. As a condition of the AOL-Time Warner merger, the FTC required the company to offer three competing Internet players in markets where it provides its own broadband service. AOL-Time Warner already carries EarthLink in its top 20 markets. The company is seeking to add additional regional Internet services.

EchoStar, DirecTV double local signal capacities: Facing a Jan. 1 must-carry deadline, EchoStar and DirecTV, which have long maintained they have limited capacity to offer local signals, have suddenly come up with more room for local television stations. The companies, which plan to merge, said they’ll double their local signal capacities to meet the deadline. Under the carriage law, a satellite system must carry every local signal in a market or none at all. Until now, both companies have cherry-picked their local station selections, offering the most popular stations in the top 40 or so markets. They’re now adding UPN, WB, Spanish-language and independent stations, as well as some PBS stations, in those markets to comply with the law.