Cablevision's Dolan set for $128M golden parachute, as cable biz loses 'contrarian voice'

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) CEO James Dolan is poised to collect a golden parachute of as much as $128 million amid the takeover of the cable company his family founded 42 years ago by a French telecom conglomerate.

cablevision james dolan


According to an SEC proxy filing, Dolan would collect that sum in stock, salary and bonus compensation if he's let go after Europe's Altice closes on its $17.7 billion deal to take over the MSO.

In confirming the deal early yesterday, Dolan made it sound like he is in fact leaving to focus on other family holdings. "For the Dolan family," he said, "we move forward with AMC Networks and The Madison Square Garden Company -- two and, eventually, three public companies -- all born of Cablevision and each with brighter prospects today than ever before."

Moreover, Altice chief Patrick Drahi has made it clear he's looking to cut costs at Cablevision through his acquisition of the MSO, including by cutting executive salaries.

Dolan, 60, is the son of Charles Dolan, the cable-industry pioneer who founded not only Cablevision, but the Time Warner Inc. premium channel we've come to know as HBO. 

Speaking to sources close to the elder Dolan, the Wall Street Journal said factors including the FCC's new net neutrality regulation, as well as declining fortunes for video services, left him unsentimentally able to divest himself of the company he first created back in 1973.

James Dolan, the report said, will now likely concentrate on the family's programming and sports assets, which include a controlling interest in AMC Networks and ownership of the NBA's New York Knicks.

The WSJ said the Dolans will clear about $2 million from the sale of Cablevision to Altice, after taxes.

The paper noted that the cable industry has lost a "contrarian view" with the departure of the Dolans. For example, Cablevision was the first to build a robust network of Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as pave new legal ground for the development of cloud DVR technology. Meanwhile, with its ongoing suit against Viacom, Cablevision is the first operator to legally challenge programmers' practice of requiring carriage of unpopular networks in order to license highly rated channels.

For more:
- read this Cablevision proxy filing
- read this Bloomberg story
- read this Wall Street Journal story

Related articles:
Altice's Drahi promises Euro-like austerity at Cablevision: 'I don't like to pay big salaries,' he says
Altice bites into the Big Apple: If it can make it there, it — and the cable biz — can make it anywhere
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