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Cable Operators

Cablevision, News Shuffle Sports Holdings

2/22/2005 2:50 AM Eastern

Cablevision Systems Corp. and News Corp. have revamped the ownership structure of their shared sports holdings under Regional Programming Partners, 60% of which is owned by the former and the balance by the latter.

In what the parties are labeling as “a generally tax-free exchange of assets,” Cablevision, once the restructuring is complete, will own 100% of Madison Square Garden and its assets, notably the arena itself; the Theater at Madison Square Garden; sports teams the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks, the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers and the Women’s NBA’s New York Liberty; Radio City Music Hall; MSG Network; and FSN New York.

Additionally, Cablevision will own 100% of FSN Chicago and continue to hold 50% of FSN New England -- Comcast Corp. holds the remainder. Cablevision will continue to manage all of these operations.

For its part, News Corp. will own 100% of FSN, as well as FSN Ohio, FSN Florida and National Advertising Partners. Following the restructuring, News Corp. will assume management of both FSN Ohio and FSN Florida and continue its management of FSN and NAP.

Finally, Cablevision and News Corp. will continue to maintain their 60% and 40% respective stakes in FSN Bay Area through their partnership, with the Bethpage, N.Y.-based company still in management control.

“Our partnership with News Corp. has successfully developed and grown some of the most powerful brands in today’s sports market,” Cablevision vice chairman Hank Ratner said in a prepared statement.

“At this stage, having full ownership and management of these properties under one parent will greatly simplify the financial and operating structure of these businesses, while allowing Cablevision to consolidate our sports and entertainment interests in the key New York market,” he added. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with News Corp. and working together with our FSN Bay Area property.”

"These sports assets have thrived under our strong relationship with Cablevision,” News Corp. president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin said in a prepared statement.

“Our companies' diverging interests have meant that it made sense to realign our partnership, but we are very happy that we will continue to work together in the regional sports business,” he added. “We look forward to taking full ownership of FSN Florida and FSN Ohio, two strong and growing regional sports channels."