Cablevision continues to see subscriber slide, blames economy

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The weak economy is at least partially responsible for an ongoing video subscriber slide at Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC), COO Tom Rutledge said during an earnings conference call, adding that the MSO is still reeling after a retransmission dispute with News Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NWSA) Fox Networks that resulted in a blackout during last year's Major League Baseball playoffs.

"Cablevision core system ... lost about 8400 video customers. Some of that was attributable to how we came into the year after the dispute that we had with News Corp. and the carriage and the World Series (but) we still continue to see softness in the economy, particularly in lower income neighborhoods," Rutledge said.

The company added 32,000 high-speed data subscribers and 40,000 voice lines as it ended up with a net of 6,000 more total customers. Most of those adds, Rutledge said, were parts of triple play bundles. Financially, net revenue grew 9.7 percent to $1.922 billion and adjusted operating cash flow was up 8.3 percent to $661.1 million, the MSO said.

President-CEO James Dolan reported that the operator's plans to spin off its Rainbow programming arm are "proceeding nicely" and that initial steps to incorporate operational practices into newly acquired Bresnan properties are "off to a solid start."

For more:
- see this news release

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