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Dolans push for restraining order against Altice USA to block News 12 layoffs

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Dolans push for restraining order against Altice USA to block News 12 layoffs

The Dolan family, which owned Cablevision Systems Corp. prior to its sale to Altice USA Inc. in 2016, is moving forward with its lawsuit against Altice over allegations of further proof that Altice violated commitments it made in connection with the deal.

The Dolan family requested a restraining order against Altice to prevent layoffs at News 12 — a business segment that operates a group of local news television channels and was acquired as part of the Cablevision deal. The Dolans said in an Oct. 9 court filing that Altice admitted to a "gotcha moment," whereby the company promised to maintain staffing levels in order to acquire News 12 in 2016 but then laid off 70 in early 2017.

The latest filing comes after the Dolans filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery in September claiming breach of contract. In particular, the Dolans said Altice agreed to operate News 12 in accordance with a pre-existing business plan through the end of 2020, which stipulated News 12 would keep 462 full-time equivalent employees. A series of layoffs, according to the Dolans, have put Altice in violation of that agreement.

The lawsuit seeks to block Altice from laying off any current employee of News 12, other than in the ordinary course of business to replace an individual for obvious cause. The suit also seeks to force Altice to comply with the News 12 business plan through 2020.

For its part, Altice USA has said the lawsuit is "completely without merit" and repeatedly expressed its dedication to the News 12 group. On Sept. 12, roughly a week after the Dolans filed their lawsuit, Altice announced plans to build new state-of-the-art TV and digital studios for the News 12 network group, with Altice USA newsgroup President Michael Schreiber saying, "Altice USA through News 12 is committed to providing the best in high-quality hyper-local news."