Cablevision May Blast Into DBS Space

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Looking to compete head-to-head with its fellow cable operators, Cablevision Systems Corp. is reportedly planning to launch a national direct-broadcast satellite service in 2004.

The MSO plans to launch a spot-beam service that will target select cities with regional and national programming, Cablevision chairman Chuck Dolan told Newsday. Cablevision owns a 50 percent stake in R/L DBS Company LLC, a joint venture with Loral Space and Communications, which controls the satellite frequencies, according to a Cablevision Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The MSO has been sitting on its satellite license for years, but hasn't actively pursued the project until recently. Dolan told Newsday
that that company hired Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a satellite that would be completed by the end of 2003.

Cablevision said last week that Dolan and other executives were unavailable for comment.

According to a June 2000 filing Cablevision made with the Federal Communications Commission, the company plans to call the service Blast.

"TV for the way you live, where you live," was the company's pitch.

In addition to distributing national cable networks, the service would contain programming that covers traffic, arts and leisure, music, news, weather and sports, according to the FCC filing. It would also offer interactive data services, retransmission of local broadcast stations and Internet access.

Dolan said Cablevision is looking for a financial partner for the venture, and that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch — who recently bid unsuccessfully on DirecTV Inc. — was one possibility.

"He could [be a partner], but Rupert has his own idea of what the future will be like, and I'm not anticipating that," Dolan told