Dish to Increase Rates

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Dish Network will raise rates for its three basic-programming packages by $1
each beginning March 1, EchoStar Communications Corp. said Wednesday.

The price increase will bring the company's most popular package, 'America's
Top 100,' in line with DirecTV Inc.'s 'Total Choice' package, which also sells
for $31.99 per month. The price hike represents an increase of just over 3

Customers of the less robust 'America's Top 50' package, now priced at $21.99
per month, would see an increase of roughly 4.5 percent, while the cost of
'America's Top 150' will total $40.99 following the rate hike.

'Our increases are not only smaller than those recently announced by cable
companies, but they are also less than the price increases we've incurred from
programmers,' EchoStar vice president of programming Michael Schwimmer said in a
prepared statement.

Still, EchoStar could come under scrutiny from consumer groups and other
observers that fear that Dish would have less reason to hold the line on pricing
once it merges with direct-broadcast satellite rival DirecTV Inc. under a
proposed $25.8 billion union with DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

On Feb. 1, Dish will raise the price of its local-channel package from $4.99
per month to $5.99 following the addition of stations under the recent
must-carry rules. Previously, a national PBS feed was offered a la carte for

In March, Dish will add two channels, Speedvision and MuchMusic USA, to its
America's Top 100 package.