$100 Million Assignment Is for New Satellite System

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NEW YORK ( -- Cablevision Systems Corp. is talking to three holding company teams about a possible $100 million marketing assignment for a new satellite system, named Rainbow DBS, according to executives close to the talks.

The Bethpage, N.Y.-based cable operator issued a request for proposals at the end of January and is believed to have seen presentations from the three teams from agency holding companies WPP Group, Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group of Cos. last week. The assignment currently includes creative advertising, media buying and a host of smaller services, such as public relations and direct-marketing duties, the executives said.

The executives said the WPP bid is being led by J. Walter Thompson Co., with media buying company MindShare and PR agency Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery; TBWA/Chiat/Day is heading Omnicom's bid; and Interpublic is fielding Lowe as its lead agency.

According to press reports late last week, Cablevision was still a potential bidder for satellite company DirecTV, which is being sold by General Motors Corp. Cablevision, however, looks set to launch its own system.

Rainbow Media
Cablevision has a majority stake in programming entity Rainbow Media Holdings, which encompasses cable networks American Movie Classics (AMC) and Women's Entertainment (WE). The Rainbow DBS package is expected to include a major high-definition TV component.

A Cablevision spokesman said: "Rainbow DBS is in the prelimary stages of exploring options. The plans vary widely and no decision regarding advertising and communications is expected at this time." He had no comment regarding Cablevision's bid for DirecTV.

The cable operator serves 3 million customers in the New York metro area and operates Madison Square Garden and is the parent company of the New York Knicks basketball franchise and hockey's New York Rangers.