So the Sundance Channel — which showcases Robert Redford’s annual film festival and reaches about 26 million viewers devoted to indie, world cinema, documentaries, short films, and original programming — has been sold for $496 million, which was the top end of the price that it was expected to fetch. As expected, Cablevision’s Rainbow Media, which already owns AMC and WE: Women’s Entertainment and the Independent Film Channel, made the deal with the three co-owners: it’s basically a stock swap with GE (whose stake is 55%)but does put cash in the hands of both CBS Inc (35%) and Redford (10%). In yet more media consolidation, it gives Rainbow Media more cable clout as it already owns the AMC Network and WE: Women’s Entertainment networks and the Independent Film Channel as well as IFC films. But Wall Street analysts can;t make up their mind about the deal. Richard Greenfield, an analyst with Pali Capital, told Bloomberg: “It’s kind of the worst of all possible worlds. The $500 million is as much as all the free cash flow they will generate this year.” But earlier he described it as “a positive long-term strategic move” for Cablevision.
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