Not enough networking on Voom

Sean Mota

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Source: NewsDay

BY HARRY BERKOWITZ
STAFF WRITER

May 12, 2005


Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan says he learned an important lesson from his failed efforts to rescue the Voom satellite TV service.

The lesson: He didn't talk to enough people who might have cautioned him more in advance about what turned out to be a $1-billion failure that created rifts on the Cablevision board and in his family.

"Always proceed carefully and talk to a lot of people," Dolan said in a brief interview - his first public remarks since Cablevision shut Jericho-based Voom on April 30. "And be sure you've invited as much opinion as you can possibly obtain."

Did he not do that with Voom? "Not enough, not enough," he lamented.

Dolan's comments came during a reception hosted by Time Warner on Tuesday night following a forum in which former President Bill Clinton answered questions posed by Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine.

Dolan appeared to take a fatalistic view of Voom's demise.

"Some things work, some things don't," said Dolan, 78. "Everybody did their best. I thought we had a pretty good product, and it was getting better all the time. Acceptance was picking up. But you finally have so much time and so much in the way of resources, and you need to reach our goals by that time or you don't continue."

The bitter, months-long battle over the fate of Voom, which Dolan's son and Cablevision Systems Corp. chief executive James Dolan opposed, was still too fresh for Charles Dolan to discuss in detail.

He said questions about his shake-up of the board over the Voom battle, including the ouster of three directors, would have to wait awhile.

He did comment, however, on Liberty Media chairman John Malone, one of the new directors Dolan appointed, who has said publicly that Voom's original edge in high-definition channels had evaporated.

"I call him up periodically and say, 'John, can I come out and have a sandwich with you?' An hour or an hour and a half with him, you get more perspective than three months with any other source."

And as for James Dolan, who turned 50 yesterday and who signed a deal in January to sell Voom's sole satellite, he said, "You have kids, what are you going to do?"
 

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