Former AT&T Broadband president Leo J. Hindery Jr. -- the architect
behind cable's consolidation trend -- is in negotiations to become chairman, CEO
and an investor in a new regional cable-sports network that will hold the TV
rights for YankeeNets LLC, a sports-team holding company formed last year.
Hindery declined comment. But sources close to the situation said he is
within weeks of signing a deal to head up 'Newco' -- the would-be pay TV home of
Major League Baseball's New York Yankees and the National Basketball
Association's New Jersey Nets.
Games from the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils, also owned by
YankeeNets, won't become available until 2007.
YankeeNets has been seeking to raise about $200 million by selling a
one-third interest in the potential New York-area network for months. According
to sources, likely investors include Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Quadrangle
Group LLC, a New York investment boutique with ties to the media industry.
Officials at Goldman and Quadrangle declined comment.
Hiring Hindery would appear to squeeze out Harvey Schiller, the former Turner
Sports executive who was brought in as chairman of YankeeNets in February 2000.
But sources close to the situation said Schiller, 61, would remain with
YankeeNets, and that he never intended to run the network.
If Hindery is appointed -- and there is still a possibility that negotiations
could break down -- one of cable's most respected and popular figures would
return to the industry after a two-year hiatus.
Hindery would step in at a crucial time for YankeeNets. Formed in 1999, the
group severed its ties earlier this year with Madison Square Garden Network --
the regional sports network owned by Cablevision Systems Corp. -- after its
10-year contract with the programmer expired.