Fox, Cablevision play chicken


Cablevision Systems Corp. could be facing another financial bullet this week. Dec.
18 triggers a 30-day option for News Corp. to "put" its 40 percent to 50 percent
interests in some jointly owned regional sports networks (New York, Chicago, San
Francisco among them) to Cablevision. That's a $1 billion hit staring
Cablevision chairman Chuck Dolan in the face just as he's starting to ease his
financial crisis.

The good news is that Fox doesn't get to choose how it gets paid. Cablevision
won't use cash or its own stock. Cablevision vice chairman Bill Bell said he's leaning toward giving News Corp. a three-year note or simply taking the
sports operation public.

Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. media analyst Ray Katz called the put window "a game of chicken"
and predicted that the companies will negotiate a smoother deal.