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VOOM And O’Rourke Ink Distribution Deal

VOOM, the high-definition TV-centric home satellite service, said it has agreed to use O’Rourke Sales Company as a national distributor, making the direct broadcast satellite (DBS) system available to independent retailers for the first time.

Under the relationship, VOOM and O’Rourke Sales Company will work together to identify and evaluate top-tier specialty retailers for VOOM, the DBS provider said. The two companies will collaborate to execute the dealer application process, provide equipment and start-up kits to retailers, establish co-operative programs and perform dealer sales and installation training.

“This national distributor partnership is significant for VOOM because it allows us to reach consumers who shop at high-end specialty retailers,” said Bill Casamo, Rainbow DBS executive VP. “Additionally, the independent retailers have highly trained staff who will ensure the utmost quality in both VOOM sales and installation.”

O’Rourke Sales Company said it intends to “aggressively market VOOM” to its approximately 10,000 retail customers in 50 states. The distributor plans to stage regional events where retailers can experience VOOM and its programming.

“HDTV is the only new viable profit center that puts retailers at the cutting edge of technology,” said Jeff O’Rourke, president of O’Rourke Sales Company. “Adding VOOM to our existing HDTV lineup, including TVs, surround-sound systems, audio receivers and accessories, allows us to offer our dealers a complete package to satisfy the increasing HDTV consumer demand.”

In other news: VOOM announced that it will add high-definition and standard-definition (SD) versions of ESPN, plus SD versions of ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS to its direct broadcast satellite lineup.

VOOM is also offering 24-hour golf coverage in SD on The Golf Channel, along with news in SD from Fox News Channel.

Cablevision Systems, parent of Rainbow DBS, which operates VOOM, announced plans for the spin-off of the direct-broadcast satellite unit, along with three national movie channels and movie-theater businesses. The spin-off is expected to be completed later this year.

The new company will be named Rainbow Media Enterprises and will include current Cablevision business units known as Rainbow DBS, Rainbow Programming and Rainbow Movies.

Rainbow Programming handles the cable movie networks AMC, WE: Women’s Entertainment, and The Independent Film Channel, in addition to various video-on-demand and Mag Rack video services.

Rainbow Movies is the corporate name for the group running Clearview Cinemas.

After the spin-off, Cablevision will retain its cable and telecommunications businesses, Lightpath, Madison Square Garden and related sports teams, Radio City Music Hall and other businesses, including Fuse, Metro Channels, News 12 and remaining interest in regional sports networks around the country (see financial story, p. 45.)

Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan will serve as chairman of Rainbow Media Enterprises. Current Cablevision CEO James Dolan will become chairman of the Cablevision unit once the spin-off is completed.

Thomas Dolan, who is a current board member and executive VP of Cablevision, will become Rainbow Media Enterprises’ CEO.

William J. Bell will continue as vice chairman of Cablevision through the end of the year and will also serve prior to the spin-off as Rainbow Media Enterprises’ chief financial officer until a permanent replacement is found.

Josh Sapan will continue to lead Rainbow’s national programming efforts as CEO of Rainbow Programming.

Mickey Alpert will continue as chief operating officer of Rainbow DBS, and Morten Gotterup will continue as senior VP and general manager of Clearview Cinemas.