Voom back in bloom

EchoStar pacts to carry 21 hi-def channels

NEW YORK — Long live Voom — sort of.

Cablevision’s Rainbow Media has inked a carriage deal with EchoStar to carry Voom’s 21 hi-def channels.

Carriage was skedded to begin Sunday, just as Cablevision shuttered the money-losing Voom service, whose fate had caused a familial rift between Cablevision founder and chair Chuck Dolan and his son CEO James.

The elder Dolan wanted to keep Voom going; James Dolan persuaded the Cablevision board to call it a day. As it went dark, Voom boasted roughly 40,000 customers.

EchoStar, which had already signed an agreement with Cablevision to buy the Voom satellite itself, is initially only carrying 10 of the Voom channels.

Rainbow Media CEO Joshua Sapan said Friday his shop will operate the Voom suite of channels and try to secure additional carriage agreements with other cable operators and satellite TV providers.

Sapan and Voom co-general manager Greg Moyer were in Nashville Friday briefing EchoStar chair-CEO Charlie Ergen and other company execs on Voom.

“From a programmers’ point of view, EchoStar is the first choice where one would want to be because of its national footprint. Voom is beyond alive,” Sapan said. “It’s a brand new day.”

Financial terms of the carriage deal were not disclosed. EchoStar will begin making the rest of the Voom channels available in 2006.

Initial 10 are music channel Rave HD, movie channel Monsters HD, travel doc channel Equator HD, art, architectural and performance channel Gallery HD, action sports channel Rush HD, Animania HD, Majestic HD, HD News and Guy TV HD.

EchoStar said it will try to lure old Voom customers by offering free hi-def programming for six months for any customers signing up for a year’s subscription of its Dish satcasting service.

Otherwise, and at least initially, Dish customers will have to pay an extra $14.99 per month for EchoStar’s existing five hi-def channels and the 10 Voom channels.

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