Bethpage, N.Y.

Revenue: $4.4 billion

Profits: $1 billion

New York’s Cablevision Systems is learning to play defense.

The 3 million-subscriber strong cable operator has racked up nearly $10 billion in debt in a race with its industry peers to upgrade its network for services like voice and data.

That red ink has forced Cablevision to take drastic measures: The company in August said that it plans to sell off its Clearview cinema chain, close its ailing Wiz chain of electronics retailers and laying off 7% of its workforce. Even after those divestitures, Cablevision will hold a vast, eclectic array of assets.

The company has majority stakes in Gotham

The company has majority stakes in Gotham entertainment venues Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. It also controls the New York Knicks basketball and New York Rangers hockey teams.

In addition, Cablevision owns nearly 80% of Rainbow Media Holdings. Rainbow’s portfolio includes American Movie Classics, Bravo, the Independent Film Channel and WE: Women’s Entertainment.

Company also owns Canadian musicvid channel MuchMusic and runs sports programming venture Fox Sports Net jointly with News Corp.

Earlier this month, Cablevision said that it plans to reabsorb substantially all Rainbow Media’s tracking-stock shares; speculation is mounting in media circles that the move may be the first step in a planned sale of Rainbow Media Holdings.

And despite its heavy debt load, Cablevision will continue to invest aggressively in upgrading its network to accommodate more high-speed data traffic.

Cablevision will have to do something soon to appease disgruntled investors. The company’s stock price has tumbled from a high of $56 to a mere $7 over the past 12 months.

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