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Rainbow comes out for Sundance

Rainbow Media, the programming arm of US cabler Cablevision, will buy Robert Redford’s arts and entertainment Sundance Channel for $496 million. As the deal was announced late Wednesday, Rainbow said Redford will stay on and have a ‘continuing relationship with the channel.”

It is not clear what Rainbow’s plans are for the Sundance, but – amid speculation it could merge it with IFC, the Independent Film Channel – it said Sundance would be a ‘another valuable and distinct network within Rainbow Media’s portfolio of award-winning national services.” Along with IFC, Rainbow already operates AMC and We tv.

Rainbow also runs a portfolio of the high definition networks under the Voom HD banner, which it has been aggressively rolling out internationally.

“The challenges facing an independent programmer are profound,” Sundance Channel president and CEO Larry Aidem said. “Rainbow unquestionably has the programming and distribution prowess necessary to run cable networks successfully over the long term. The opportunity to be a wholly owned, core asset in the Rainbow/Cablevision portfolio ensures a very bright future for Sundance Channel.”

Sundance launched in 1996 and is owned by Redford, General Electric’s NBC and CBS. Rainbow will pay GE in GE stock that it owns and Redford and CBS in cash. It will own 100% of the channel when the deal closes.