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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

Doom and Voom
Dolan's debacle

1. Flipping the Bird at Cablevision

Well, you can say a lot about Chuck Dolan, but you can't accuse him of wishy-washiness. Once he fixates on a bad idea, he holds on to it for dear life.

Dolan, to remind you, is chairman of Cablevision (CVC), the mostly successful cable TV operator behind the ill-fated high-definition television satellite service called Voom.

As was widely reported last week , Cablevision's board gave up on Voom, and the company sold off its key satellite assets.

But what wasn't so widely reported was Dolan's assessment of why Voom went down the tubes.

It had nothing to do with the obvious reasons why Voom was near-doomed from the start. Voom, for example, faced intense competition from the comfortably established EchoStar (DISH) and DirecTV (DTV). Voom's much-vaunted high-definition programming was padded with lame, exclusive-for-a-good-reason programming such as Euroleague basketball and views of a tropical fish tank.

No, that wasn't the problem, according to Dolan. Instead, it was Our Litigious Society, which apparently makes it impossible for company directors to Be Brave and Do the Right Thing.

Really. In a memo that leaked out of Cablevision (at least one analyst believes it authentic, but the company declined to comment on the authencity of the memo), Dolan and one of his sons -- also an executive at Cablevision -- wrote that they believed the board's decision "has to do with today's post Enron regulatory climate, which places great emphasis on the potential legal liability of directors who sit on the boards of corporations involved with new enterprises."

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