Dolan: Cablevision Considering Sale of Rainbow Channels

Feb 23, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan acknowledged Wednesday that selling Rainbow Media’s national cable channels is an option being explored by the cable company in the wake of dumping its failed satellite business. But he stressed that at this time the company has no plans to sell the channels.

Following the announcement late last year that it was shelving its planned spinoff of its satellite operation, Cablevision said it was exploring strategic options for the Rainbow channels, which include AMC, WE: Women’s Entertainment and Independent Film Channel.

“We have no plans to sell the Rainbow networks [at this time],” Mr. Dolan told analysts Wednesday during a conference call to discuss 2004 financial results. He added that as the company explores its options for the channels, selling them is a possibility.

Talk of a possible sale of the networks comes as Cablevision moves ahead with sale of its satellite business. The company agreed to sell its lone satellite to EchoStar Communications, and has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the satellite operations’ customer relationships and channels to a company controlled by Cablevision Chairman Charles Dolan.

The satellite unit, which has been a major cash drain for Cablevision, pushed the company deeper into the red in the fourth quarter, more than offsetting strong performance by the core cable operations.

Cablevision reported a widened fourth-quarter loss of $305.8 million, versus a year-earlier loss of $197.3 million, thanks to a $354.9 million impairment charge related to the satellite business. Revenue rose 11 percent to $1.4 billion, largely due to growth at the company’s core cable operations and the Rainbow networks.

For the year, Cablevision reported red ink of $676.1 million, compared with a loss of $297.2 million a year ago, on an 18 percent increase in revenue to $4.9 billion.