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EchoStar to Raise TV Rates

January 10, 2002|From Reuters

LAS VEGAS — EchoStar Communications Corp., the No. 2 satellite broadcaster, will raise monthly subscriber rates in March by $1, or about 3% on average, its chief executive said Wednesday.

CEO Charlie Ergen also said Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar had struck a deal with News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment unit to continue carrying its Fox Sports regional channels, which it had threatened to drop.

At a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ergen said the rate increase probably would have been twice as high had EchoStar not dropped ESPN Classic on Jan. 1. Ergen said Walt Disney Co., ESPN Classic's owner, had demanded a 15% increase in its licensing fee.

EchoStar unveiled new products during the electronics show, including a new line of digital video recorders that can record up to 110 hours of programming.

Ergen spotlighted a satellite dish and receiver that can receive both EchoStar's Dish Network and DirecTV. He said EchoStar would roll out the dual units to its customers before its proposed merger with DirecTV is approved so they could be turned on automatically if the deal is finalized.

Ergen also discussed the prospects for high-speed Internet access via satellite, saying EchoStar's own venture in that area, StarBand, had been largely unsuccessful and probably would have been shut down if not for the merger proposal.

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