Dolan's Daddy Dearest act
By Barney Gimbel

(FORTUNE Magazine) – It's no fun being a second-class citizen. But that's what most Cablevision shareholders felt like when chairman Charles Dolan pulled a bizarre power play. Though Dolan and his family own only about 2% of Cablevision's equity, special voting stock lets him call the shots. And that's just what he did. When the board and his son, CEO James Dolan, voted to shut down his beloved--albeit struggling--satellite-TV service Voom, Dolan ousted three directors and installed four close business associates. The move shows the power one angry chairman can have when he doesn't get his way. And that's the downside of dual-class share structures: At times the interests of the two diverge. (Viacom, Comcast, News Corp., the Washington Post Co., the New York Times, and even Google all give founders special status.) So what does this mean for Cablevision's ordinary shareholders? A rough couple of months. Dolan's actions have opened the door to lawsuits charging, among other things, that he's breached his fiduciary duty. And longer term, the situation has gotten so rancorous it's hard to see how this company (which also owns Radio City Music Hall, the Knicks, and the Rangers) can avoid a breakup or sale. "What's happening here is more like King Lear than normal corporate governance," says Columbia Law School professor John Coffee. We know how that tale ends. -- Barney Gimbel