Cablevision Up on Malone Departure

Cablevision Systems Corp.’s stock price rose 3.2% Thursday, to $27.56 from Wednesday’s closing price of $26.70, after John Malone left the company’s board of directors and analysts interpreted the move as a possible prelude to Cablevision selling programming assets.

Cablevision said in a securities filing that made the news Thursday that Malone, chairman of Liberty Media Corp., resigned seats on Cablevision’s and CSC Holdings Inc.’s boards “to avoid any potential concerns that could arise” from his being a director there and on Liberty’s board because both “own programming companies.”

Craig Moffett of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said in a note to clients that the resignation “seems to suggest that Cablevision has begun, or could begin in the future, discussions to sell their Rainbow Media [Holdings LLC] cable channels to Liberty Media or to a Liberty-related company.”

Other buyers could be interested in Cablevision’s Rainbow channels, as well, “including Viacom [Inc.], [The Walt] Disney [Co.], NBC Universal, News Corp. and Comcast [Corp.],” Moffett said, noting that the Rainbow channels include AMC, The Independent Film Channel and WE: Women’s Entertainment.

Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan named his old friend, Malone, to the board in March, at a time when Dolan was feuding with other directors over his ill-fated Voom HD direct-broadcast satellite venture.