May 24, 2013
Cablevision Systems Corp. Chief Executive James Dolan on Thursday called police officers into the company's annual meeting to throw out protesters complaining about a labor dispute involving the cable operator. The protesters were shareholders linked with the Communications Workers of America, a union in a labor dispute with Cablevision now before the National Labor Relations Board. During the meeting, held at Cablevision's Long Island, N.Y., headquarters, Mr. Dolan repeatedly asked the protesters to leave before calling in the police.
The CWA and Cablevision have been locked in a contentious contract dispute regarding a group of Brooklyn workers for over a year. The CWA has accused Cablevision of illegally firing 22 Brooklyn employees who chose to join the union more than a year ago. Cablevision says it replaced them because they were refusing to work and has since rehired them, according to a Cablevision spokesman. The CWA issued a statement saying that shareholders allied with the union had "asked the company tough questions about the potential impact" of the labor dispute. At the meeting, Mr. Dolan defended his actions and pointed out that the unionized Brooklyn workers have recently petitioned the NLRB to schedule a vote about whether to continue their affiliation with the CWA. He added that he looked forward to a pending NLRB hearing. After the protesters were escorted out, Mr. Dolan said he'll entertain questions about "anything but labor!"
Cablevision issued a statement after the meeting saying, "This is a shareholder meeting with a clear set of rules. The CWA attempted to disrupt the meeting; they were asked to refrain and when they did not, they were asked to leave. The matter is now in the hands of the authorities." Normally, annual meetings tend to be sedate affairs. There was some expectation of fireworks leading up to Cablevision's meeting due to a campaign in recent weeks by the New York City comptroller, who controls the city's pension funds that hold about half a million Cablevision class A shares, or roughly 0.2% of that class. The Dolan family controls the company through supervoting class B shares. The comptroller had been lobbying for Cablevision shareholders to withhold votes from five director nominees who were up for reelection at the meeting, arguing that the company has lacked board accountability due to conflicts of interest between public shareowners and the Dolan family. In the end, all board members who were up for reelection were reelected, the company said, although the precise voting tally wasn't disclosed. Wall Street Journal
Satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp and wireless network provider nTelos Holdings Corp said they would jointly develop a broadband service within nTelos's coverage territory serving parts of Virginia, Maryland and a few other states. Dish has been trying to diversify beyond its core pay-TV business that has matured and faces tough competition from cable, telecom and Internet video providers.
The new service will give nTelos and Dish customers, especially those in underserved rural communities, access to high-speed Internet, the companies said in a statement. "We are pleased to team with nTelos on this exciting opportunity to leverage their mobile capabilities along with our technical service infrastructure to develop broadband services," Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of Dish said. Dish is mired in two takeover battles, for Sprint Nextel Corp and Clearwire Corp, as it looks to expand its businesses. Sprint offered to buy Clearwire in December for $2.2 billion but Dish announced a counterbid of $2.3 billion in January. Dish followed up in April by making a $25.5 billion cash and stock bid for Sprint. The boards of both Sprint and Clearwire have, however, advised shareholders against voting for Dish. Reuters
After customers complained, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is cracking down on competitive electrical suppliers who play fast and loose with the language in their marketing efforts. The PUC on Thursday issued new definitions to reduce misleading sales pitches. For instance, some suppliers marketed "fixed-rate" offers but explained in the fine print that the prices were locked in for only one month, which meant they were really variable rates. The PUC will now define a fixed-rate offer as one whose price is locked in for "at least three billing cycles." The PUC is seeking public comment on the proposed changes. About 37 percent of the state's 5.7 million electric customers have switched to alternative suppliers. philly.com
We had front-row seats six months ago when a camera crew shadowed U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, Philadelphia's Democratic Party chairman since 1998, as part of a potential reality television show. Brady did not exactly take to the camera as it followed him around the Famous 4th Street Deli during the 2012 general election. In fact, he looked quite miserable under the microscope. The camera crew, supervised by Larry Platt, a former editor of the Daily News and Philadelphia magazine, eventually had eight to 10 hours of footage over several days in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Brady said. They distilled that to a four-minute "sizzle reel," an industry term for a video to pitch a show.
So far, Brady said, CNN and Netflix have expressed interest. "Nothing ceases to amaze me anymore," he said. "I don't even know why I did it. But it was fun." Platt said eight to 10 networks are considering the show - working title: "The Last Boss" - but he declined to identify them. And Platt said he thinks Brady "secretly liked" being filmed. "It was fun hanging out with him," Platt said. "He's such a character." Philadelphia Daily News
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