Charles Dolan, the founder and former CEO of Cablevision, has filed a lawsuit against Altice USA that claims the company failed to fulfill promises made during its $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision in 2016.
In the lawsuit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Dolan charged that the acquisition deal included an agreement by Altice USA to provide full-time employment for the 462-member staff of Cablevision’s News 12 through at least the end of 2020. However, the lawsuit stated Altice USA laid off 70 News 12 employees in 2017 and is planning additional job terminations this year. News 12 operates 24/7 news channels in Connecticut, Long Island and parts of New York City.
Dolan, who will turn 92 next month, is joined in his lawsuit by his wife, Helen Dolan, and their sons James Dolan, a former CEO of Cablevision, and Patrick Dolan, president of News 12 at the time of the sale, along with Colleen McVey, a 60-year-old news anchor with News 12 Networks who claimed that she will soon be laid off because Altice USA was allegedly seeking a “fresh look” for its news broadcast.
“As we negotiated with Altice on the sale of Cablevision in 2016, our family was committed to protecting the superb reputation and continued independence of News 12 and its employees,” said Patrick Dolan. “We considered News 12 to be one of Cablevision’s most cherished assets and felt immense pride in the service that the news network provides the community. For those reasons, maintaining high-quality, hyperlocal news content was critically important and a condition necessary for the sale. Unfortunately for the employees of News 12, Altice has disregarded its solemn promise to operate News 12 according to the News 12 Business Plan, as shown in the layoffs of approximately 70 employees in 2017 and its intent, expressed in writing, to conduct further layoffs starting this week. The purpose of today’s lawsuit is to enforce Altice’s contractual commitment to stand by the employees of News 12.”
Altice USA responded to the lawsuit with a statement that called the litigation “completely without merit,” adding that it would “vigorously” defend itself.
“Altice USA remains committed to offering meaningful news coverage, enhancing our news product for our local communities and growing our audience,” the company said. “Under Altice USA’s leadership, News 12 remains the most viewed TV network in Optimum households. This achievement reflects the uniqueness of News 12’s hyperlocal content and the high value viewers place on news that is tailored to their neighborhoods. Local news has never been more important, and we’re proud that News 12 continues to be a trusted source of news and information in the communities we serve.”