EchoStar to Launch Eighth Bird


EchoStar Communications Corp. said Thursday that its EchoStar VIII satellite
is set to launch early Saturday from Kazakhstan.

The new satellite, approved by the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, will provide both national and spot-beam signals for the
company's Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite service. The spot-beam
capacity will allow EchoStar to expand its local-into-local broadcast

Dish plans to televise the launch, which is slated for 1:15 a.m. EST

It typically takes several weeks to test an in-orbit satellite before it's
given the official go-ahead to serve as an in-orbit backup or to provide signals
to Dish.

EchoStar said it has not purchased in-orbit insurance for EchoStar VIII,
although it does have $125 million in insurance for the launch itself.

EchoStar also said Thursday that it has begun offering six local broadcast
stations in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Because Dish was unable to reach a retransmission-consent agreement with
local CBS affiliate WPEC, it did not include the station in the package. Until
it adds the CBS station, the local channel package will sell for $4.99 per month
rather than the $5.99 Dish typically charges.