Cablevision Buys Sundance Channel

Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings has hammered out a deal to acquire Sundance Channel, the cable network co-owned by General Electric’s NBC Universal, CBS Corp.’s Showtime Networks and the actor/director Robert Redford, in deal worth just shy of $500 million.

In a statement released Wednesday morning (May 7), Cablevision said that a sum of $496 million would be paid through a tax-free exchange of approximately 12.7 million shares of GE common stock held by the Rainbow Media unit.

NBC Universal is the majority owner of Sundance Channel, controlling 57 percent of the network, while CBS owns 37 percent and Redford owns the remaining 6 percent. Per terms of the deal, GE is to receive all of the 12.7 million Rainbow-held shares of its stock, while CBS and Redford will be paid cash in exchange for their respective interests.

Once the transaction is completed, Sundance Channel will join the Rainbow stable of cable nets, which includes IFC, AMC and We tv. Because IFC is also devoted to independent film, the Sundance deal gives Rainbow a virtual monopoly on indie, a catch-all concept that includes everything from cult classics such as David Lynch’s Eraserhead to genre exercises like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.  

“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,” said Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge, by way of announcing the deal. “We also believe that with Rainbow’s resources we will have a tremendous opportunity to build upon Sundance Channel’s success.”
 
Although Cablevision did not elaborate on its plans for Sundance Channel, it is possible that the two film channels may be merged to form one