Direct-broadcast satellite company EchoStar Communications
Corp. last week named cable-industry veteran John D. Reardon president of its Dish
The position has been vacant since last March, when former
president Carl Vogel, who is now with Canada's Star Choice direct-to-home satellite
service, left the company.
Since the 1980s, Reardon said, 'I had the entire ride
with the cable industry.'
He's had stints as president of MTV: Music Television,
president and CEO of TCI Music and president and CEO of interactive-television company
Zing Systems. 'Now, I get the chance to do it all again with DBS. It's a
In a press statement last week, EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen
said, 'John's consummate skills and experience in the cable-television and DTH
industries will be invaluable to both the day-to-day and long-term operations of Dish
DBS analyst Steve Blum, president of Tellus Venture
Associates, predicted that EchoStar's appointment of Reardon would be good for the
'EchoStar has pulled in a major industry
executive,' he said. 'The fact that he's a programming executive tells you
what EchoStar's priorities are. EchoStar is trying to push programming first.'
As president of Dish Network, Reardon's primary duties
include marketing, sales, programming, subscriber growth and retail distribution.
'Anything that touches the customer is my purview,' he said.
Reardon added that his appointment will relieve Ergen from
some of the day-to-day responsibilities of running Dish Network so that he can devote more
time to focus on a five-year plan.
But even with Reardon's appointment, Ergen will
probably not have much free time on his hands in the near term. He is likely to have a
fight on his hands in Washington, D.C., if he is to win approval for his plan to deliver
local-network signals to so-called served homes, as well as unserved homes, within a given
And Ergen still intends to go to court in June with his
suit against News Corp., which backed out of a deal with EchoStar last spring.
The biggest focus of the company is local-to-local
programming, Reardon said. EchoStar has already started marketing the local-channel
service in Atlanta through television and print ads, as well as point-of-sale materials at
The company is still working through such issues as how to
best train its dealers to get the local-to-local message out to their customers.
'The goal is to get subscribers,' said Reardon.
'That's my mission in life.'
To do so, he'll make improvements in marketing and
programming -- areas where he has much experience, he added.
To help beef up subscriber numbers, the company also wants
to gain more distribution at top consumer-electronics stores. Reardon said recent
relationships with Philips Consumer Electronics Inc. and JVC Co. of America will be an
important component in expanding Dish Network retail distribution.
EchoStar's smaller size compared with some of its DBS
competitors doesn't seem to bother Reardon.
'Most of my experience has been with entrepreneurial
companies,' he said.
With more than 1 million subscribers, EchoStar can no
longer be considered a start-up company, Reardon said.
But it's still a thrifty one. With its cost-saving
mentality, Reardon said, EchoStar is in a position to reach breakeven with fewer
subscribers than its larger DBS competitors.
Reardon wouldn't say whether the company's
emphasis on cost savings carried over into his salary. He did say that he plans to take
advantage of the stock options that were offered as part of his package.
Ergen and Reardon have been in ongoing discussions
surrounding the appointment for some time now. Reardon accompanied Ergen to the Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, keeping a low profile at the
company's press conference there.
The following week, Reardon met with all of EchoStar's
vice presidents and higher-ups at a management retreat in Tulsa, Okla. 'It was a
wonderful place to become immersed in the Dish Network experience,' Reardon said.
'I love it.'
When asked whether naming a former cable executive as
president of Dish Network means that Ergen has started to make peace with the cable
industry, Reardon replied, 'I think that would be an overstatement.'