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Dolan: Voom Working Against the Odds

Cablevision Systems Chairman Chuck Dolan was far from defensive in addressing the criticism leveled at his startup DBS service Voom. Wall Street has yowled over the venture and the plan to spin it off not alone, as anticipated, but along with the entertainment networks in Cablevision’s Rainbow unit.

At the semi-annual Skyforum DBS seminar in New York Thursday, Dolan said that "the reaction to that is what you expect." Voom "is viewed as being new and working against odds."

Cablevision acknowledged that the initial spin-off plan would have left Voom short of cash. But Dolan added that part of the rationale for the restructured spin-off stems from the nature of Cablevision’s programming assets. Voom will have a national footprint so it should have Rainbow’s national networks: AMC, IFC and WE: Women’s Entertainment.

The networks tied to New York, where Cablevision serves three million subscribers—News 12 and the regional sports networks—will remain with the cable systems. "There’s a fundamental logic to it," Dolan said in an interview. He did not explain why Fuse—a national music video network—is being left behind with Cablevision.

Dolan said he still would like to be thought of as "a cable guy" but shrugged over his planned departure from Cablevision over to the rival DBS industry.

"Cable is not the church we go to," Dolan said. "It’s not a religion. Cable is a delivery system. It’s an efficient delivery system, but it’s not the only one."

EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen said "Certainly Chuck Dolan and Cablevision have a track record for success," but the Voom plan ignores the possibility that "there may be a good reason we haven’t thought of it. Maybe it’s a stupid idea, maybe we’re asleep at the wheel."