EchoStar Raises Rates, Pledges Freeze


Fresh on the heels of a consumer-group protest that MSOs are unjustifiably
raising rates comes word that direct-broadcast satellite archrival EchoStar
Communications Corp. will jack up its Dish Network fee $2 monthly starting Feb.

But the DBS provider is also guaranteeing a two-year price freeze for its
basic service and cutting the cost for two premium-TV packages.

That increase applies to Dish Network's "America's Top 50," "America's Top
100," "America's Top 150" and "America's Everything Pak." Meanwhile, "Dish
Latino," "Dish Latino MAX" and out-of-market multisport-package rates will rise
$1 per month.

EchoStar was quick to point out that because the average Dish subscriber pays
more than $50 monthly, the $2 rate hike will equal less than a 4 percent
increase compared with 2002 rates -- a lower percentage compared with hikes that
have drawn fire by cable operators.

The rate hike reflects rising programming costs and the addition of new basic
channels including CNBC World, NBA TV, MuchMusic USA, Fox Sports West 2, Vision
TV, National Geographic Channel, The Independent Film Channel and WE: Women's
Entertainment, according to an EchoStar release.

To ease the pricing blow, the DBS operator pledged not to raise its new
$24.99 price for its America's Top 50 programming package for new and existing
customers through January 2005.

It is also offering two new Dish Network "Value Paks" aimed at cutting costs
for customers who want Home Box Office and Cinemax programming.

The "HBO/Cinemax Value Pak" with Dish's America's Top 100 programming offers
125 channels at $49.99 monthly, a $2.99 discount from current rates. Similarly,
the HBO/Cinemax Value Pak paired with America's Top 150 package offers 180
channels at $59.99 monthly, a $1.99 decrease.