News 12 Networks will employ at least 371 full-time workers through February 2023 under a settlement between the networks’ owner, Altice USA, and their founder, the Dolan family, according to documents made public on Wednesday.
The settlement agreement ends a year-old lawsuit by the Dolans that sought to have the News 12 workforce restored to a minimum of 462 full-time positions through 2020.
The Dolans had alleged that layoffs at News 12 in 2017 and last year violated the sales agreement under which Altice USA's parent, Altice N.V. of the Netherlands, purchased Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage in 2016. The Dolans were controlling shareholders of Cablevision.
Altice USA planned to reduce the News 12 staff by 10 percent this year and in subsequent years, according to the suit. News 12 had a minimum of 371 full-time jobs a year ago, according to the settlement.
Patrick Dolan, owner of Newsday Media Group and former News 12 president, said the settlement maintains journalism standards and News 12 operations in the metropolitan area for 3½ years.
“It provides significant additional job security for employees of News 12,” he said in a statement. “It ensures that News 12 will continue as a hyperlocal news network with its current structure of studios and newsrooms.”
The network covers Long Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester, the lower Hudson Valley, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Dolan continued, the settlement “mandates a minimum amount of in-depth reporting. It also preserves the hyperlocal sports coverage that has been an essential piece of the News 12 brand. These were the issues important to the Dolan family and why we filed the lawsuit.”
An Altice spokeswoman said Wednesday the company had no comment on the details of the settlement.
If Altice decides to sell News 12 to a company with no experience in broadcast news, the settlement states that “Altice will include Pat Dolan among the potential bidders in the sale process and will negotiate in good faith regarding a potential sale of News 12 to Pat Dolan.” The Dolan family posted the settlement on a website linked to their lawsuit.
Separately on Wednesday, Altice and Verizon announced News 12 will be carried on Verizon FiOS starting Nov. 16. News 12 had been available exclusively to subscribers of Altice's Optimum service. Verizon last month said it would discontinue the competing FiOS1 News.
The settlement prohibits Altice from compelling news reporters and anchors to participate in advertising spots. “Without reprisal by News 12 or Altice, any on-air staff member may opt out of participating in branded content or sponsorships,” the settlement states.
In August the Dolans said, “Altice recently crossed a journalistic red line by using on-air employees in paid advertisements. In one example of this, an Altice news executive dressed in a Dunkin' Donuts uniform is seen delivering coffee to a weather anchor, who is performing as an actor in the commercial.”