Dish Adds Voom HD Nets

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Cablevision Systems Corp. was scheduled to shut down its Voom HDTV satellite service April 30, but channels from its Voom 21 HD Originals suite will survive on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network and possibly other cable and satellite platforms.

Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings subsidiary cut a deal with EchoStar last Thursday to launch 10 of the Voom channels on May 1, and distribute all 21 channels by 2006.

Rainbow also named company veterans Greg Moyer and Nora Ryan as co-general managers of the Voom 21 HD originals, to be pitched to other distributors.

Many Voom employees were laid off last month, including customer-service reps, but Moyer said 157 employees in Voom's programming unit remain.

EchoStar planned to add to its $9.99 monthly HD programming package on Sunday, at no additional cost: RUSH HD, Gallery HD, Rave HD, Ultra HD, Equator HD, Monsters HD, Animania HD, Majestic HD, HD News and Guy TV HD.

The tier also has HDNet, HDNetMovies and high-def channels from ESPN, Discovery Networks U.S. and Turner Network Television.

Sapan said Rainbow will pitch a Voom package separately from other Rainbow channels such as AMC, Fuse and Independent Film Channel.

He said HD programming could be a big revenue driver for Rainbow: “This is a major undertaking for us, so if we meet with the success that we hope, we think that it could be a quite substantial business.”

Rainbow could later package the Voom suite and other linear networks, he added.

Rainbow hasn't reached deals with Cablevision or other non-Dish distributors for Voom 21, but Sapan said Cablevision might add the Voom channels. A Cablevision spokeswoman declined to comment on whether or not the MSO would launch the Voom channels.

Debate over Voom's future caused a rift between Cablevision CEO James Dolan and his father, chairman Charles Dolan. Cablevision's board voted in February to sell the Rainbow 1 satellite to EchoStar for $200 million and to shut down Voom, which had 48,000 subscribers.

Sapan said he expects many of those customers to get Dish Network.

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