Rainbow Will Look to Strengthen Sundance Channel’s Brand Distinction Through Increased Commitment to Original Programming
BETHPAGE, N.Y., May 7, 2008 – Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, a programming subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC), today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Sundance Channel from General Electric Company’s (NYSE: GE) NBC Universal, CBS Corporation’s (NYSE: CBS) Showtime Networks, and entities controlled by Robert Redford. Sundance Channel reaches nearly 30 million subscribers and offers a diverse and engaging selection of films, documentaries and original programs.
For Rainbow Media, the purchase expands and strengthens its entertainment presence with the addition of a recognizable and desirable brand that attracts loyal viewers. Sundance Channel will join AMC, IFC and WE tv as another valuable and distinct network within Rainbow Media’s portfolio of award-winning national services. For NBC Universal, Showtime and Robert Redford, the sale of Sundance Channel highlights their success in developing this heralded programming service.
Sundance Channel was launched in 1996 under the creative direction of Robert Redford and its brand reflects the values and attributes of its founder. Following this transaction, Sundance Channel will benefit from its continuing relationship with Mr. Redford, one of the most respected, admired and successful people in entertainment. Along with films and documentaries, Sundance Channel’s original programming provides a mix of series and specials that promote artistic freedom of expression and the impact that expression can have on our world.
“We are always looking for strategic opportunities for our business and Sundance Channel adds another valuable asset to Rainbow’s award-winning lineup of programming networks,” said Cablevision President and CEO James L. Dolan.
“Programming that attracts a dedicated viewing audience has always been Rainbow’s mission and we think that Sundance Channel is an excellent fit and consistent with that rich heritage. We also believe that with Rainbow’s resources we will have a tremendous opportunity to build upon Sundance Channel’s success,” said Cablevision’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge, who oversees Rainbow Media for the company.
“Robert Redford is a true visionary and, through everything he has accomplished with Sundance Channel, has made immeasurable contributions to the world of independent film,” said Rainbow Media President and CEO Joshua Sapan. “Rainbow has experienced firsthand how impressive original programming like Mad Men and Breaking Bad can distinguish a network’s brand. Sundance Channel has already established its own distinct voice through impressive programming like The Green and Iconoclasts and our vision is to build on this type of original content, further strengthening the uniqueness of the network.”
“The Sundance Channel team, led by CEO Larry Aidem, has exceeded every expectation I had for this venture,” said Sundance Founder Robert Redford. “Innovation and integrity in both business and creative models have continually resulted in new ways of bringing dynamic programming to wider audiences,” he continued. “We look forward to working with Rainbow to further distinguish Sundance Channel and to create even greater value for this important service.”
“The challenges facing an independent programmer are profound,” commented Sundance Channel President and CEO Larry Aidem. “Rainbow unquestionably has the programming and distribution prowess necessary to run cable networks successfully over the long term. The opportunity to be a wholly owned, core asset in the Rainbow/Cablevision portfolio ensures a very bright future for Sundance Channel.”
Under the terms of the transaction, the total consideration of $496 million will be paid through a tax-free exchange of approximately 12.7 million shares of common stock of General Electric Company held by Rainbow Media, with a cash adjustment at closing based upon the value of the General Electric shares in relation to the total purchase price. Under the transaction structure, General Electric Company will receive all of the GE Shares and the CBS and Redford entities will receive cash in exchange for their interests. In connection with the exchange of the GE shares, Cablevision will repay the monetization debt associated with such shares. Upon completion of the transaction, Rainbow Media will own a 100% interest in Sundance Channel. The completion of this transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions.
Sundance Channel Programming Highlights
Robert Redford Presents THE GREEN: The first prime-time television destination dedicated to the environment, THE GREEN offers a dynamic mix of original series, eco-conscious documentary premieres and short-form programming that will inspire viewers to live green.
Big Ideas for a Small Planet: This original series is a look at the next generation of green visionaries and innovations dedicated to preserving our environment without sacrificing quality, luxury, style or design.
Ecobiz: Meet the forward-thinking entrepreneurs and business owners who prove green is good for the bottom line and the future of the planet.
Additional Original Programming
Iconoclasts (Season 4) : Some of today’s most provocative personalities explore the passions and aspirations of the innovators, rule-breakers and ground-shakers who inspire them. [Fall 2008]
Live From Abbey Road (Season 2) : Up close and musical. The world’s most famous recording studio is the setting for this intimate music series featuring 36 top artists. [Summer 2008]
Architecture School: This docudrama follows eight students enrolled in the Design/Build Program at Tulane University’s School of Architecture as they build a sustainable, design-forward home for a family returning to New Orleans. [Series premiere, Fall 2008]
Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…: An exciting new interview and performance series hosted by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elvis Costello, from executive producer Elton John. [Series premiere, Fall 2008]
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC). Rainbow Media is a leading producer of multi-platform content for global distribution, creating and managing some of the world’s most compelling and dynamic entertainment brands, including AMC, IFC, WE tv, Lifeskool, Sportskool, and VOOM HD Networks. Through its IFC Entertainment division, Rainbow Media also owns and manages the following: IFC Films; IFC in Theaters, a day and date theatrical feature film/VOD initiative; the IFC Center in New York City; IFC Productions; and IFC Entertainment, which owns and operates a film library. Rainbow Media also operates Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation, its advertising sales company, and Rainbow Network Communications, its full service network programming origination and distribution company.
Cablevision Systems Corporation
Cablevision Systems Corporation is one of the nation’s leading entertainment and telecommunications companies. Its cable television operations serve 3 million households in the New York metropolitan area. The company’s advanced telecommunications offerings include its iO: Interactive Optimum digital television, Optimum Online high-speed Internet, Optimum Voice digital voice-over-cable, and its Optimum Lightpath integrated business communications services. Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings LLC operates several successful programming businesses, including AMC, IFC, WE tv and other national and regional networks. In addition to its telecommunications and programming businesses, Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden and its sports teams, the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. The company also operates Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre and owns and operates Clearview Cinemas.