Cablevision's $1B Sony deal slashed

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After being trashed on Wall Street for failing to disclose much detail about
its financial overhaul, it dawned on Cablevision Systems Corp. executives to
actually provide some numbers Thursday.

In its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Cablevision
unveiled some shockingly favorable details about the cutback in its digital
set-top deal with Sony Corp.

In 1999, Cablevision committed to buy $1.3 billion worth of Sony advanced
digital converters at around $350 to $375 each. A week ago, Cablevision said it had
gotten out of the deal, but it didn't say how much it would have to pay.

The new filing showed that the commitment to Sony is just $138 million over
the next two years. Cablevision is now free to use other vendors.

The filing also disclosed another detail that Cablevision quizzically didn't
disclose last week: The company plans to draw $365 million from its Rainbow
Media Group unit.

Rainbow had been separated as a tracking-stock company two years ago, but
Cablevision is reeling it back in to use its balance sheet to raise money for
the cash-strapped system side of the business.

The filing added little about a planned direct-broadcast satellite venture Cablevision has been
diddling with for a decade, but it noted that the 49 percent-owned Northcoast personal-communications-service
venture in Cleveland is in technical default on its debt.

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