October 15, 2012
Cablevision Systems Corp. is exploring a potential sale of Bresnan Broadband Holdings LLC, a cable operator it bought for $1.4 billion less than two years ago, people familiar with the matter said.
The fifth-largest U.S. cable operator by subscribers is laying the groundwork for a sale of Bresnan, which provides television, high-speed Internet and other communication services to roughly 360,000 customers in Western U.S., including Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, these people said. A formal auction of Bresnan is unlikely; rather, Cablevision is expected to reach out to a few parties such as Charter Communications Inc. and private-equity firms, the people said. It is unclear how much Cablevision expects to fetch for Bresnan, and whether a sale will happen. "It is Cablevision's longstanding policy not to comment publicly on rumors or speculation in the media," a Cablevision spokesman said.
When Cablevision bought Bresnan in 2010, it marked a shift in strategy for the Long Island-based cable operator. Bresnan's systems were far away from Cablevision's concentrated New York metro market. A big strength for Cablevision had always been its regional clustering, which allowed it to achieve efficiencies in marketing and engineering to deploy services like digital cable at a faster rate than other cable operators. The move to sell Bresnan comes nearly a year after Cablevision's Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge left, later joining Charter as chief executive. Mr. Rutledge oversaw Cablevision's cable operations at the time of the Bresnan purchase. A spokeswoman for Charter declined to comment. Cablevision outbid several private-equity firms and rival cable operators to buy Bresnan from an investment group led by Providence Equity Partners. For the first six months of 2012, Bresnan's net loss widened to $21 million from around $19.5 million a year ago. Revenue for the same period rose 7% to $249 million. Wall Street Journal
The stakes just got higher for Dish Network in its long-running legal battle with Cablevision over its now defunct Voom TV service.
A judge yesterday ordered Dish to provide more data on its subscriber figures after Cablevision accused the satellite-TV company of lowballing its numbers, thereby reducing the potential damages in the case. State Supreme Court Justice Richard Lowe ordered Dish to provide more disclosure and granted Cablevision's legal team the right to perform two separate internal audits of Dish's records. "If what [Cablevision] asserts is anywhere near accurate, it's the heart of the plaintiff's damages case," Lowe said, according to Bloomberg News.
The judge has already slammed Dish several times, accusing it of delaying tactics in hopes of getting a mistrial. Cablevision sued Dish in 2008, claiming Dish breached their 15-year contract to offer Voom to its 14 million TV subscribers. The Long Island cable operator is seeking $2.4 billion in damages - a figure that could rise.
Cablevision contends that its Voom high-definition TV venture lost half a billion dollars when Dish pulled out of their deal to pay it a percentage of the fee charged to every Dish HD subscriber. Dish lawyers have stated that only 40 percent of its 14 million subscribers get HD service. Cablevision believes the percentage is much higher since the industry standard is in the region of 70 percent. Dish lawyers claim the company needed to get out because Cablevision didn't spend $100 million on programming as agreed.
Cablevision has argued that the spending wasn't limited to just programming and could go toward funding other aspects of the operation. "Dish is facing an uphill battle," said Susquehanna Financial litigation analyst, Thomas Claps. "The judge has gone out on a limb to scold Dish and its corporate conduct." A Dish spokesman declined comment as did a Cablevision spokeswoman. New York Post
The Dodgers may be sitting out the postseason but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of activity going on at Chavez Ravine. On Monday, the Dodgers and News Corp.'s Fox Sports enter a 45-day window to try to negotiate a new TV deal. If the talks are not successful, it could clear the way for Time Warner Cable, which earlier this month launched its own local sports channel here, to make a run at the team.
Currently, the Dodgers are on Fox Sports' Prime Ticket regional sports network. That agreement expires at the end of next season, but it's typical in sports to sign new deals at least a year before the current one ends. Fox Sports currently pays about $40 million per season for the Dodgers. Most observers expect the Dodgers to look for a big payday. Guggenheim Partners, the new majority owner of the Dodgers, shelled out $2.15 billion for the team and one of the key reasons for the high price tag is the belief that the local television rights are undervalued.
Fox had made an offer of $3 billion for 20 years to previous Dodgers owner Frank McCourt that was ultimately rejected by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Keeping the Dodgers is key for Fox, which besides Prime Ticket also owns the Fox Sports West regional sports channel in L.A. Time Warner Cable already dealt Fox Sports West a big blow when it snagged the rights to the Lakers. If the Dodgers went to Time Warner Cable or if the team decided to start its own channel (another possibility) it would be a big hit to the bottom line of Fox's Los Angeles sports operations. Although the exclusive window starts next week, Fox and the Dodgers have already had some preliminary negotiations about a new deal. Even if Fox doesn't emerge with an agreement, that doesn't mean it's out of the running. Before the Dodgers can shop its rights, it has to make an offer to Fox. If Fox passes then the rights can go on the open market. Then things could get interesting. Los Angeles Times
The most-watched moment of Thursday's vice presidential debate was the exchange between Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan over Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remarks, according to a report on Friday. The first presidential showdown was noticeably missing any mention of the "47 percent" comments, but the remarks delivered the vice presidential debate's most-watched moment, TiVo found in an analysis of viewership data across all broadcast and cable networks. Biden brought up the comments within the first half-hour of the debate - at 9:28 p.m. EST - when he talked about Romney's economic policies and said "it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility of their own lives." The exchange with Ryan over those comments marked the top moment across all networks, TiVo found.
The second most-watched moment came just a few minutes later, at 9:33 p.m., with Biden responding to Ryan over the congressman's requests for stimulus funds. "Any letter you send me, I'll entertain," Biden said. Ryan replied, "I appreciate that, Joe." TiVo Research and Analytics Inc. uses anonymous viewing data and "gauges the interest in programming content by measuring the most rewound and re-watched moments in the debate." Politico
Throughout his decades in the Senate - we tend to forget the number of elections he lost: DA, Mayor, Senator, Governor, President - many in politics often wondered how someone who routinely angered people at all points on the political spectrum managed to keep winning reelection.
Here's just one story that helps explain.
Seeking his first reelection in 1986, Arlen shows up at Pittsburgh's old Three Rivers Stadium to attend a reception in the Allegheny Club hosted by the team-owning Rooney family before a Steelers game. He brings a sign, "Specter for Senate," but is told the Rooney's don't allow political signs in the stadium. So Arlen pulls then-Allegheny County Commissioner Barbara Hafer, a Republican, aside and says something like, "Introduce me to some people." Hafer, who'd later serve in statewide office and run unsuccessfully for Governor in 1990, dutifully starts going to various tables introducing other guests to Specter.
By the second table, Arlen pulls her aside and says, "Not in here, out there," pointing to the large, loud hometown crowd. He hands her the sign, suggests the Rooneys would never toss a county commissioner and starts walking around. For the whole first half. Some in crowd yell "Down in Front." Some yell, "Hey, Arlen!" Some just boo. Yet, there he is, an incumbent U.S. Senator, slogging through Three Rivers Stadium doing fan-to-fan campaigning, Rooney sign-ban or not, Allegheny Club invite or not, ongoing football game or not.
The story reflects an innate tenacity that drove Specter throughout his life and made him a ferocious political opponent whether in debates or on campaign trails. No matter what you think of his career or record, it's hard to deny his tenacity, or the fact he earned all that he got. philly.com; see also Philadelphia Inquirer; and tributes to Sen. Specter in Harrisburg Patriot-News
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