Cablevision Acquires 'Newsday' Long Island-based Cablevision Systems Corp. buys New York Newsday from Sam Zell's Tribune Company for $650 million. The Dolan family, which owns Cablevision, outbid media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
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Cablevision Acquires 'Newsday'

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Cablevision Acquires 'Newsday'

Cablevision Acquires 'Newsday'

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

A major newspaper in New York has a new owner and a major surprise is that it's not Rupert Murdoch. Cablevision is buying Newsday in a deal that values the Long Island daily paper at $632 million.

NPR's David Folkenflik has this story about the Dolan family. The Dolans own Cablevision and now become players in the troubled world of newspapers.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: The new owners of the Long Island-based daily, Newsday, the father-and-son team of Charles and Jim Dolan, have done well with their cable business, which is also headquartered on Long Island. Richard Greenfield is media analyst for Pali Capital.

Mr. RICHARD GREENFIELD (Pali Capital): The Dolans are really the creators of a very powerful New York cable area franchise that has, you now, really become the preeminent cable system company in the country.

FOLKENFLIK: But Greenfield says the Dolans have trouble keeping their focus.

Mr. GREENFIELD: You know, the issue with Cablevision is that Dolans at the end of the day are able to pull the strings and control the board and are sometimes are able to go very far astray from their core business, which is cable systems.

FOLKENFLIK: So here in New York City you hear a lot about the Dolans and their properties on sports talk radio.

(Soundbite of WFAN-AM radio)

Mr. CHRISTOPHER RUSSO (Radio Host): I think the Knicks here made a mistake. Only - I think he made a mistake, a little bit like Larry Brown.

FOLKENFLIK: That's Mike and the Mad Dog earlier today. Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden, the NHL's New York Rangers, and the ongoing soap opera that is the New York Knicks.

(Soundbite of WFAN-AM radio)

Mr. RUSSO: Hey, I wouldn't have hired them, and if I was D'Antoni I wouldn't have come here and taken the Knick job.

FOLKENFLIK: Chuck Dolan is 81, the reserved chairman of the company who's seen as a creative force. Early on, Dolan established the nation's first regional cable news channel in Long Island, then launched the channel that became HBO. The CEO is his son, Jim Dolan, who turned 53 yesterday. Jim Dolan is brasher; he fought publicly with his father and clashed with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. And Jim Dolan has outside interests of his own, notably his band.

Mr. JIM DOLAN (CEO, Cablevision): When we lost our keyboard player, that they - and we reconstituted the band into JD and the Straight Shot.

FOLKENFLIK: Now both Dolans have a new outside interest, and that's newspapers. Yes, that troubled industry, where the advertising base erodes more each year. Newsday has already been cut severely, and now its owner, the Tribune Company, has been forced to unload it. Rupert Murdoch of the New York Post was seen as the leading suitor; Mort Zuckerman of the Daily News matched his offer of $580 million. But both lost out.

Mr. HOWARD SCHNEIDER (Former Newsday Editor): If I had to make a choice of the three, Rupert Murdock and Zuckerman and Dolan, I think this may turn out to be the best alternative for Newsday and Long Island.

FOLKENFLIK: Howard Schneider worked for Newsday for 35 years and he was a top editor for 18. He says as Charles Dolan admires the paper's rich tradition of in depth journalism.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: The question is, who will run Newsday and what role will he play versus his son and does his son share his passion and his feelings about the paper?

FOLKENFLIK: The Dolan family made a big gift toward a student newsroom at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where Schneider is now Dean of Journalism. Schneider now asks...

Mr. SCHNEIDER: Will the Dolans invest back in the newspaper and will they be able to smartly manage these media assets, not having a tremendous amount of experience with journalism?

FOLKENFLIK: Cablevision is counting on making profit synergies to get subscribers for the paper and advertisers for the cable system. But Pali's Richard Greenfield argues the Dolans are straying ones again, buying another trophy to add to the shelf.

David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

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