Cablevision Systems Corp., the Long Island, N.Y.-based media company that owns cable TV systems and a raft of cable networks, said Thursday that it was on track to spin off its Rainbow Networks unit in mid-2011 and the soon-to-be created company will be named AMC Networks Inc.
In ditching its longtime Rainbow Media moniker, Cablevision is betting that the recent success of its marquee AMC channel, which boasts such prestigious dramas as the Emmy-winning "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and the zombie thriller "The Walking Dead," will have more cache on Wall Street.
The new AMC Networks entity will include the channels AMC, WE tv, IFC, Sundance Channel and AMC/Sundance Global, plus IFC Entertainment, an independent film business.
"AMC has become one of the most established of those brands, recognized by consumers, advertisers and investors alike," Sapan said in a statement. "We want to capitalize on that strong brand awareness for what will be our new public company."
Sapan joined Rainbow in 1987 as president of Bravo (later acquired by NBC) and AMC. In the 1990s he helped launch IFC and WE tv. He became Rainbow's CEO in 1995. In 2008, the company acquired the Sundance Channel.
Cablevision said its spinoff of Rainbow would be a leveraged transaction and structured as a tax-free pro rata spinoff to Cablevision stockholders. Cablevision last year spun off its Madison Square Garden arena business.
-- Meg James
[For the record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Cablevision owns the sports teams New York Knicks and New York Rangers. In fact, Madison Square Garden owns the teams. Both Cablevision and MSG are controlled by the Dolan family].
Photo: Josh Sapan. Credit: Cablevision Systems Corp.