Is James Dolan's Cablevision Going to Be Predator or Prey?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Is Cablevision (CVC) ready to make a deal?

The company's CEO James Dolan sparked chatter in the media industry -- and got a boost for his company's stock -- last week when he expressed a desire for consolidation of cable-service providers in New York City, Cablevision's main market.

"I think consolidation of that marketplace would provide a great deal of ingenuity and more access to resources for customers and lower prices," Dolan said in Chicago at the Internet & Television Expo. To achieve that he said he might be interested in a deal with Time Warner Cable  (TWC), Comcast (CMCSA) and other cable operators.

The mercurial 60-year-old offered an explanation that may be understood by those who came of age in the 1960s. "I think I'm proposing a commune," he said. A consolidated New York market would make it easier to smoothly provide wireless and other advanced services to consumers, providing "a lot of opportunity for innovation," Dolan said.

So is Cablevision on the block?

"The decision of whether it's sold is in the hands of the Dolan family," including James Dolan's father Charles, who founded the company, Gamco Investors portfolio manager Chris Marangi, pointed out. "James Dolan noted the rationale for consolidating the New York market, which has existed for a long time."

Could it happen? Perhaps. But Marangi said, "I'm not sure he's suggesting that Cablevision be sold. Many goals could be accomplished by Cablevision buying Time Warner Cable's New York cable system."

The way it could work is that Charter Communications (CHTR) would acquire Time Warner Cable and then sell its New York system to Cablevision in exchange for a large stake in Cablevision. Analysts say that deal is the most likely to happen. One possible endgame would be for Comcast, which has an interest in entering the New York City market, to eventually buy the whole thing, Marangi said.

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