Cablevision Launches Its HDTV Service

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By SETH SUTEL, AP Business Writer

The company also faces serious challenges obtaining original programming for the service. Of the channels available now, one is focused on tours of art museums, another on fashion, and another on collectors and their hobbies.

Cablevision plans to waive monthly fees for the service during its initial launch period. which goes through January 2004. After that, the service will cost $39.90 a month.

Cablevision is still building up its high definition programming roster, which for now includes some name-brand channels like Showtime, Starz! and Playboy. HBO is not yet available, but company officials expect that it will be by the end of the preview period.

Cablevision has been slow to reveal details about the satellite service, and even at its announcement Wednesday many questions remained about how much more investment would be required to get the service going, how that investment would be funded, and how many subscribers would be needed to make the business model work.

Dolan demurred on all these questions, saying the company would offer further guidance about its plans after it had a chance to gauge consumers' responses. The company will have spent about $500 million on Voom by the end of 2003.

"We'll respond to whatever this market tells us it wants," Dolan said. "There are elements that are not yet worked out."

Cablevision is known as a cable TV provider in the New York area as well as the owner of several cable networks, including AMC, IFC and Fuse. It sold its Bravo network to NBC.

Cablevision says it still plans to spin off Voom, but those prospects are unclear given a pending investigation into the accounting practices of the AMC channel.

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