Dish CEO Sees Improving Subscriber Trends

Charlie Ergen - House Hearing - 2001
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Joe Clayton, brought on by chairman Charlie Ergen earlier this year, also discusses how T-Mobile USA and others could fit into the satellite TV giant's wireless future.

NEW YORK - Subscriber trends at satellite TV giant Dish Network are improving, and the company is serious about pushing into the wireless space, CEO Joe Clayton told Reuters.

After two quarters of subscriber losses that topped 100,000 and disappointed some on Wall Street, Dish's business is in line for a turnaround, Clayton said. "I think you'll see good fourth-quarter results from us, and they will clearly show we've turned the corner," he told Reuters without getting more specific.

He also said that Dish, controlled by chairman Charlie Ergen, is serious about its wireless ambitions after spending nearly $3 billion on wireless spectrum and assets in the past year.

He suggested that the company will consider a partnership with T-Mobile USA if AT&T doesn't pull off its plan to acquire the wireless service provider. For that though, Dish first needs to get a wireless license from the FCC. Plus, it would have to wait for a final decision by regulators on the planned merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

"The FCC and the government, if the merger goes through, is going to dictate and demand a new carrier, so there's a minimum of four (carriers) and we believe we are going to be one of those and that's what our plan is," Clayton told Reuters. He said Dish would still need a wireless partner or acquire a company to offer telephony services.

The Dish CEO made clear though that while it is setting its sights on new initiatives, it isn't abandoning its pay TV roots. "Pay TV is going to generate tons of cash, $1.5 billion cash this year to help us fund the future," Clayton said. "We think we are well positioned with the Blockbuster acquisition, plus the wireless spectrum we have…The building blocks are already in place to evolve."


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