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Delayed Voom Bonus Boosts Dolan

Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan got a big raise in 2005, mainly from a deferred bonus tied to his failed HD direct-broadcast satellite venture, Rainbow DBS.

According to a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, Charles Dolan received $15.7 million in compensation in 2005 -- more than seven times the $2.1 million he earned in 2004. But about one-half of his 2005 compensation came in the form of a $7.1 million bonus (he received no bonus in 2004).

According to the proxy statement, Charles Dolan’s 2005 bonus was about $3.49 million. He received another $3.6 million in bonus cash for 2004, which was not paid until November 2005. That delay was because of uncertainties relating to the shutdown of Rainbow DBS, the HD DBS venture also known as Voom.

After a lengthy boardroom battle with his son, Cablevision CEO James Dolan, Charles Dolan finally agreed to shut down the Voom service in 2005. Cablevision agreed to sell its Rainbow DBS satellite last year to EchoStar Communications Corp. for $200 million. The Voom programming service, which has about 21 original HDTV channels, is still operating, but so far, only EchoStar has agreed to carry any of the channels.

According to the proxy, Charles Dolan’s annual salary stayed flat at $1.6 million in 2005. He received $538,739 in other annual compensation (mostly for use of the company aircraft), $3.1 million in restricted-stock awards, $2.8 million in long-term incentive-plan payouts and $533,535 in other compensation.

James Dolan’s 2005 compensation rose about 24% in 2005 to $10.1 million from $8.15 million in 2004. His annual salary was flat at $1.6 million and his annual bonus fell to $3.5 million in 2005 from $4.8 million in 2004.

Where James Dolan gained ground was on the long-term-compensation front -- his restricted-stock award rose slightly to $1.53 million from $1.2 million in 2004, and he received $2.8 million in long-term incentive-plan payouts. He received no LTIP payout in 2004.

Other Cablevision executives who received raises in 2005 include chief operating officer Tom Rutledge ($6.65 million in total compensation in 2005 versus $5.6 million in 2004) and chief financial officer Michael Huseby ($2.29 million in 2005 versus $1.1 million in 2004). Huseby joined Cablevision in August 2004, so his compensation for that period was for less than one full year.

Vice chairman Hank Ratner's total compensation was $6.3 million as opposed to $6.9 million in 2004. The difference was mainly due to lower LTIP payouts offset by gains in restricted-stock awards and other compensation.

In a prepared statement, Cablevision spokesman Charlie Schueler said, “In 2005, Cablevision had record operating results driven by the company’s industry-leading telecommunications performance. The company’s executive compensation is fully appropriate and reflects Cablevision’s excellent operating performance in 2005 while encouraging strong results in the future.”