Cable Operators

Cablevision Ups Its Bid

3/27/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Cablevision Systems Corp. has bid $760 million to build a mixed-use residential complex on Manhattan's West Side, as the MSO looks to quash an attempt from the New York Jets to build a football stadium there that could compete with Madison Square Garden.

Cablevision originally bid $600 million for the site in February. Then when the site owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, accepted a new round of bids from the Jets, Cablevision and a third company last Monday, the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO didn't disclose its bid.

But on Friday, a source close to the company said Cablevision submitted a $760 million all-cash offer for the site. That would top the Jets' bid by $40 million, but fall short of a $1.05 billion offer for the site from TransGas Energy System.

The MTA is expected to review the bids later this week.

SUPER BOWL BID

The football team's hopes to build a stadium on the site gained some momentum last week, after the National Football League said it would hold the 2010 Super Bowl in New York if the stadium proposal were to be approved.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been lobbying for the stadium as a key element in efforts to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York.

Rev. Al Sharpton, a Bloomberg foe, also entered the fray last week, backing the mayor and criticizing Cablevision for attempting to block construction of the stadium, which he said would bring jobs to minorities.

“'The only plan on the table that guarantees jobs and guarantees inclusiveness is this [Jets] plan,” Sharpton said, according to the Associated Press.

Cablevision and the Jets are slugging it out in the courts. The Jets filed an antitrust suit against Cablevision on March 16, enlisting famed attorney David Boies. Boies declared Cablevision is “using one monopoly to protect the other,” as the MSO has refused to run local ads from the Jets on networks such as Cable News Network, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and Cablevision-owned News 12 Long Island.

Boies said the Jets would seek at least $100 million in damages.

Cablevision officials didn't respond to specific allegations in the suit. But in a statement, spokesman Charles Schueler called the Jets suit “nothing more than a desperate publicity stunt” to influence the MTA's bid process.

LOTS OF LAWSUITS

The Jets complaint is one of several lawsuits Cablevision's legal team is handling, led by general counsel Jonathan Schwartz, hired in 2003 after the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating accounting irregularities at Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings unit.

AMC TAKES ON TIME WARNER

In addition to ongoing SEC and U.S. Attorney's Office investigations into Cablevision's accounting practices, the MSO's AMC Networks unit is scheduled to begin a trial in May against Time Warner Cable.

AMC sued after Time Warner attempted to drop the channel because it altered its programming strategy.

Cablevision also faces shareholder lawsuits, the most recent of which was filed after chairman Chuck Dolan abruptly replaced three board members earlier this month with longtime friends and colleagues.

Attorneys at Cablevision are also handling shareholder suits involving the exchange of the Rainbow Media tracking stock and a $193 million lawsuit filed in February by the operator of The Wiz, Cablevision's former retail-electronics business.

September