Hard times make it easy for Dolan


What a difference a month and a financial crisis make.

Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan said Thursday that he doesn't expect to sell his firm's cable networks amid the current market conditions. That "probably was different a month ago," when deals at better price tags were relatively easier to finance.

At Goldman Sachs' annual Communacopia conference, Dolan was asked whether his family could try to take Cablevision private again after previous failed attempts. "I would never completely rule it out, but at this time it's not really on our radar," he said.

Dolan added that his top priority amid the market turmoil is to manage the company's debt. "Today I think you need to be concerned about your debt first," he said. Cablevision has about $1.7 billion in maturities.

He said current credit facilities and free-cash-flow trends make him comfortable with Cablevision's debt situation. "We wouldn't have to tap credit markets," he said.

Had the company gone private, it would have more debt now, which is "probably not the best position to be in today," Dolan said.

Cablevision continues to mull its options for the future of HD networks venture Voom, which lost its only distribution partner, Dish, the CEO said. (partialdiff)