News

Dolan to FCC: Block Deal with EchoStar

3/29/2005 10:13 AM Eastern

In another strange twist in the Voom saga, Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles F. Dolan Monday asked federal regulators to block the transfer of direct-broadcast satellite spectrum from Rainbow DBS to EchoStar Communications Corp.

Dolan, joined by a group called The Association of Consumers to Preserve and Promote DBS Competition, asked the Federal Communications Commission to reject the deal on the basis that it would conflict with long-term agency competition goals.

Dolan and his allies said EchoStar’s acquisition of the satellite assets “would undermine” competition in the pay TV market and clash with “well-established” FCC policies of “fostering competition and new entry among DBS service providers.”

The filing stated that Voom HD was in the process of obtaining $400 million in financial commitments in an effort to purchase the satellite frequencies included in the transaction “should they once again become available in the market.”

Dolan’s filing said the EchoStar deal would harm competition because it “would result in a loss of service to the approximately 40,000 existing subscribers to the Voom DBS service.”

Cablevision first agreed to sell its “Rainbow 1” satellite to EchoStar in December for $200 million as part of a plan to eventually shut down the Voom service. But after pressure from Charles Dolan, Cablevision relented in February, agreeing to allow Dolan to continue to run the service and giving him until the end of March to secure funding.

It is estimated that Voom will need $1 billion-$1.5 billion to fund operations over the next few years.

Mike Farrell contributed to this report.

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