EchoStar Communications Corp. said Thursday that it added twice the number of
net new subscribers to its Dish Network base in the second quarter than its
direct-broadcast satellite rival, DirecTV Inc.
Dish added 350,000 new customers and reported positive earnings for the first
time. Still, EchoStar share prices were down 3.3 percent at market close
Thursday amid heavy and volatile trading.
In a conference call, EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen lowered
subscriber-growth guidance for the year from 2 million net new customers to 1.75
million. He admitted that the economic slowdown could have an impact on the
company's subscriber numbers.
Ergen also blamed DirecTV's signal-theft problems for hurting Dish and cable,
which find it harder to sell video services to consumers who can pirate them
Confirming earlier published reports, Ergen acknowledged that DirecTV and its
parents have not embraced EchoStar's overtures seeking a merger between the DBS
'We think there are tremendous synergies for the companies and our
customers,' Ergen said in the call, adding that DirecTV, Hughes Electronics
Corp. and General Motors Corp. 'did not share our enthusiasm for that
But Ergen would not go as far as to say that he had given up on any future
attempts at a DBS merger.
'We're going to continue to stay away from commenting,' Ergen said. 'It does
our management team no good to spend our focus' on press calls, he added.
Spokespersons for the company have continued to decline comment on a possible