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Cablevision Lays Off Dozens in MSG Varsity Restructuring

Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision has laid off dozens of employees in a major restructuring for MSG Varsity.

A source spoke to FishbowlNY under the condition of anonymity as the severance package hasn’t been yet been received.

“Somebody’s got to say this is wrong. To have a conference call [with] only three sentences and click, and you turn in your badges,” the source described the company’s notification to exiting staffers.

The source says the layoffs took place two weeks ago. Cablevision at the time said in a statement that “it is combining MSG Varsity with Optimum Local, the company’s local programming unit. This will result in an expansion of MSG Varsity’s programming line-up to include local public affairs, educational, and Optimum branded shows to complement its powerful line-up of tri-state high school programming, which is available exclusively to Optimum customers.”

The source, though, intimates that the sale of Cablevision will take place in the summer. Three years ago, Cablevision spun off is subsidiary, Madison Square Garden LP to The Madison Square Garden Company led by company chairman James Dolan.

“[He] will announce a new enterprise where the new owners of Cablevision will continue to run News 12 with Pat Dolan in charge,” the source says. “Public access will be eliminated. MSG Network will continue.”

“Yes, there were some positions eliminated as a result of the merging of MSG Varsity and Optimum Local,” a Cablevision spokesperson says. “As for the rest of these allegations, they are anonymous and inaccurate.”

In 2011, Cablevision broke away from AMC Networks, formerly Rainbow Media.

“The newspaper people have been saying the Knicks have been better, [but] they don’t know the story that goes on with the workers at Cablevision and Madison Square Garden,” the source contends. “The lady that puts together all the events at Madison Square Garden, she wants to collect her pension. But I’ve got news for you, as you get closer to collecting your pension you get whacked.”

Cablevision refused to disclose how many people were affected by the layoffs earlier this month. The source tells FishbowlNY that about 200 people were let go leaving “less than skeleton crews.”

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