Cablevision Spectrum Sale Reviewed


Washington— The Federal Communications Commission has released for public comment Cablevision Systems Corp.'s plan to sell a batch of wireless telephone licenses to Verizon Wireless.

Last month, Cablevision agreed to sell 50 personal-communications service licenses for the Northeast region to Verizon for about $750 million, which the cable company hopes to use to pay down bank debt. Cablevision's PCS company is called Northcoast Communications LLC.

The licenses cover major metropolitan markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest, including New York City; Boston; Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Hartford, Conn.

Cablevision, which owns a 49.9 percent equity stake and a 90 percent economic interest in Northcoast, has said approximately $60 million of the proceeds will be used to pay Northcoast's debt to the FCC.

The FCC needs to approve the Verizon sale. Initial comments are due at the agency by Feb. 20. The companies expect to close by the second quarter of 2003.

Cablevision bought the PCS licenses in 1996 for about $117 million. In Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Cablevision said it has invested another $217 million in the company.