Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York European telecommunications giant Altice’s deal to purchase Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. for $17 billion including debt raises serious questions about what the acquisition means for Cablevision’s virtual monopoly on Long Island local news.If regulators approve the sale, which is scheduled to close next year, Altice will also take over Cablevision’s media assets: Newsday, LI’s lone daily newspaper; amNew York, a free New York City daily; and seven News12 hyperlocal cable news channels covering the tristate area, including their flagship station on the Island.“We were very focused on keeping control and ownership of…the media assets, which have been loss-making historically, but are extremely attractive as far as being a part of the fiber of the local community,” Altice Chief Executive Officer Dexter Goei said on a conference call Wednesday.Altice’s deal with Cablevision, the nation’s fifth-largest cable company with 3.1 million subscribers, combined with Altice’s $6 billion acquisition earlier this year of St. Louis-based Suddenlink Communications, the seventh-largest cable provider in the country, would make it the fourth-largest cable operator.The announcement comes amid an American media consolidation frenzy this year, with Charter Communications, the nation’s third-largest cable company, purchasing Time Warner Cable, the second largest, and AT&T buying DirecTV, the satellite television company.Cablevision CEO James Dolan issued a statement early Thursday morning calling Altrice “truly worthy successors.” He also noted that the Dolan family will still own their spunoff companies, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks basketball team, the New York Rangers hockey team and AMC Networks, the cable channel company.“We expect that Cablevision will be in excellent hands,” Dolan said of the company that his father, Charles, founded 42 years ago. “We look forward to doing all we can to affect this transition for our customers and employees.”At one point in the negotiations, the Dolans had resisted selling their media properties as a part of the Cablevision deal, but Altice insisted on including them, The New York Times reported. Cablevision bought Newsday for $632 million seven years ago from the Tribune Company, based in Chicago.The acquisitions would not be the first foray into print media for Altice, which is owned by the French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, whom The New York Times described as “a ruthlessly efficient operator who runs a lean business.” Altice Media Group owns about 20 newspapers and magazines in France. Asked during the conference call if Altice planned to sell off Newsday, News12 and amNewYork, Goei said that is not their intention.“We find those businesses to be extremely attractive and a core part of the local community that we would like to continue to invest in and hopefully learn from in many respects,” he said. “We think that we can run those businesses a little bit more efficiently over time, but I think it’s about continuing to invest in the quality content, both on the Newsday side and as well as the News12 side.”Goei noted that Altice found the media assets’ $200 million in annual ad sales “very impressive” despite the $350 million in operating costs. He added that he believes Altice can consolidate the corporate offices of the news outlets without compromising the quality of the news coverage.“A lot of the losses are being generated by an allocation of corporate overhead,” he said. “You can expect us to try and manage those allocations a lot tighter going forward.”The Altice CEO also praised Cablevision’s controversial ownership of Newsday and said the new owner would not interfere with the newsrooms.“We have a huge amount of respect for what the Dolan family has done with those businesses,” he said. “We won’t touch anything to do with editorial content, but we obviously will look to optimize on the losses…There’s a lot of things like duplicative finance staff.”Jaci Clement, executive director of the Bethpage-based Fair Media Council, a local media watchdog group, said that while Goei may be saying all the right things now, only time will tell if Altice will tinker with the news coverage or not.“It’s too early to tell about anything,” she said. “Based on the way this has worked with other companies…you’re probably talking about a year before any changes take place…They want to formulate their own game plan and figure out what their idea of success is.”At Newsday‘s Melville office Wednesday night as news of the Cablevision sale was spreading through the building, staff in the composing room were reportedly joking about learning French.-With additional reporting by Desiree D’iorio and Spencer Rumsey.
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram “You’ve got my undivided attention,” says Eva Sofocli, on the phone from her boutique fashion shop Togah in the Melbourne suburb of Niddrie, though I have the feeling that any moment I may be put on hold. After less than six months since taking over the store, Eva is busy dealing with customers eager to get their hands on her latest range of designer brands. But in between the occasional pause to answer customer requests, this young aspiring entrepreneur is keen to tell me about her journey into retail.Born in 1987, Eva grew up in Essendon. Her dad Jerry came from Limassol, mum Katie, also of Cypriot heritage, was born in Melbourne. Eva’s experience at school reflects a common thread. “As I grew up I spoke a bit of everything, my dad would talk to me in Greek. I was one of just five European kids at primary school. It was a bit hard, because our English wasn’t great, so they made us go to ESL (English as a second language). Eva tells me that it was only at high school, when she encountered the full multicultural rainbow of Australian society, that she felt truly confident. At an early age, Eva had a natural inclination to care for animals. “I think I got it from my dad who looked after eagles in Cyprus.If I found an injured bird on the way home from school, I’d bring it home and dad would nurse it.” On finishing high school, Eva’s natural instincts towards animals seemed the ideal direction for a career. She enrolled at the University of Victoria to begin four years of veterinary nursing studies. During the course, she earned extra cash with a part-time job in sales promotion, marketing dog food brands for Procter and Gamble. By graduation, she’d seen enough of what a job as a vet nurse would entail and decided against pursuing a career in animal husbandry. “I was very sad about the way the animals were treated, I couldn’t handle that,” says Eva. While animals aren’t part of Eva’s career today, they are still very much part of her life. She has a dog (Sassy), a cat (Andre), a lizard (Reggie), and a parrot – “a big green monster” – called Elliott. After finishing university, Eva looked for a job. Frank and Bove, a clothing store in north Melbourne wanted someone on the counter. Eva jumped at the chance. “I put a lot of heart and soul into the work,” says Eva, “it was selling kids’ and women’s clothes and giftware. It was there that I realised that running a store was something I wanted to do.” In April this year, Eva had enough savings to take over the shop herself. It was a dream realised. “I jumped straight into it. I love a challenge. If I hadn’t taken over the store, I wanted to become a police officer,” she says. Have you always been fashion conscious? “I guess so, particularly when it comes to other people, but I dress very ‘hippie’, I feel I might have been a gypsy maybe in my past life.” Why Togah? “Well, it’s a garment that goes back to ancient times, but we put an ‘h’ on the end, to funk it up a bit,” she says. It’s clear that Eva’s vision for her business goes a lot further than a funked-up name. “All the stock we have, portrays me in some way. The look I’m going for is very ‘Brunswick street’ [the inner north Melbourne strip known for its arty cafes, live music venues and alternative fashion shops] – it’s about being very ‘warehousey’, flash, vintage – but contemporary, retro – but sharper and cleaner.” Whilst still in the throes of renovating the shop, assisted by partner and draftsman Renato, Eva’s already begun rolling out her plans to become a talent scout and test bed for a new generation of local fashion designers. “I want it to be funky, outgoing, we want to be different” says Eva, who feels that promoting new local designers is core to what Togah is all about. “We want to recommend young Melbourne and Australian designers, says Eva, who identifies one such young Victorian designer – Andrea Ioannou, as typical of the kind Togah is there to promote. “We need to support the locals,” says Eva. “Andrea’s brand is called El amuleto. It’s amazing. The designs are very beady, ‘goddessy’, lots of pastel colours.” Eva currently has six local designer brands in the shop, which will increase to ten by the end of the year. “It’s all about supporting people who have dream,” says Eva, whose own dream includes a studio at the back of the shop one day, to create her own Togah brand garments. By the way, if you’re after furs, forget it. Search for Togah on Facebook to see Eva’s latest lines, including Andrea Ioannou’s label – El amuleto. Togah, 479 Keilor Road, Niddrie, Moonee Valley 3042 (03) 9374 4744