Uncomfortable Family Psychodrama Purchases 'Newsday'

Rupert Murdoch's secret, sneaky plan to destroy Long Island tabloid Newsday: let a dysfunctional company buy it for more money. Cablevision purchased the paper for $650 million and Murdoch withdrew his bid this weekend. Now, everyone is a bit confused. Because Cablevision owns many odd things, but none of them have been newspapers up til now. "The Newsday bid had the backing of both Charles Dolan, who founded the company, and his son James L. Dolan, the chief executive," the Times reports, even though generally the Dolans hate each other and disagree about everything. And according to witnesses of the meetings between the Dolans and former Newsday owner Sam Zell, the "tension between the two has been obvious." As have the tensions between Cablevision and its shareholders. Because Cablevision is a company that does one thing quite well and everything else quite poorly.

Cablevision makes a lot of money with its cable system. Madison Square Garden and the Knicks and the Rangers? Not quite managed as effectively. And now Cablevision owns a newspaper and no one knows why except maybe it's just the Dolans being insane or Jimmy trying to prove to dad that he knows how to run a company or something. Obviously owning a Long Island newspaper will present some synergistic benefits to a company that owns a cable tv system, but not necessarily $650 million worth. Plus the deal comes right after Cablevision inexplicably bought the Sundance channel for almost $500 million. That deal made even less sense, really, though at least the price wasn't as embarrassing as everyone worried it might be.

Some Wall Street types are pretty sure the crazy Dolans are just trying to mismanage the company to annoy all the shareholders who didn't let them go private last year. We suspect Jimmy just decided to buy a newspaper because he wishes he could be an awesome media baron like Rupert Murdoch.

Cablevisison Strikes Deal to Buy Newsday [NYT]