DirecTV Plans 1.2M 2002 Net Adds


In its first-quarter earnings call Monday, Hughes Electronics Corp.
executives gave more optimistic guidance for 2002 DirecTV Inc. subscriber
growth, projecting that it would add 1.2 million net new subscribers for the

The new guidance, up from the 1 million subscribers projected earlier, comes
on the heels of record first-quarter growth in DirecTV's eight-year service

DirecTV added 849,000 gross subscribers in the first quarter. After
accounting for churn, the direct-broadcast satellite carrier added 350,000 net
new subscribers, which does not include National Rural Telecommunications
Cooperative customers.

DirecTV president Roxanne Austin attributed the growth to simplified
promotional offers and the availability of all local broadcast stations in the
41 markets where the DBS provider offers local-into-local packages.

In those 41 markets, more than 70 percent of new customers now sign up for
local channels, compared with 60 percent a year ago, Austin said.

Hughes CEO Jack Shaw said he remains confident that the company's proposed
merger with EchoStar Communications Corp. will receive regulatory approval by
the fourth quarter of this year.

DirecTV chairman Eddy Hartenstein said both companies in the
merger-transition team agreed that they want to control two things in-house
rather than relying on outside vendors -- the conditional-access system and the
billing system.