Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen to Add CEO Title, Company Posts Subscriber Loss for 2014

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Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen

He will take over day-to-day operational oversight from retiring president and CEO Joseph Clayton as the satellite TV giant reports a pay TV customer loss for its latest quarter and year.

Satellite TV company Dish Network on Monday reported full-year 2014 financials and subscriber trends and said Joseph Clayton will retire from his role as president and CEO, effective March 31. Chairman Charlie Ergen will take on the added roles from him as of March 31.

The 61-year-old Ergen had previously been running day-to-day operations as CEO, but stepped back from those duties a few years ago to take a bigger-picture strategic planning role, while continuing to hold clear voting control over the company and controlling its direction and destiny. In the past few years, Dish has invested in wireless spectrum and pushed into the streaming TV space. Now, Ergen takes over day-to-day operational oversight again.

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About Clayton, 65, Ergen said: "Over the last four years, Joe's leadership has been instrumental to Dish as we have worked to engineer a fundamental transformation of our business. He has set the stage for what will become a new company, and with that he has prepared a new class of management to address the adventures coming our way."

Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker in a first reaction said this about the executive change: "We aren't surprised given [Clayton's] age and tenure. Charlie Ergen will resume this position."

Dish said Monday it ended 2014 with 13.978 million pay TV subscribers, down 79,000 from the end of 2013. In the fourth quarter, it lost 63,000 video subscribers. In the year-ago quarter, the company had added 8,000 net subscribers to end 2013 with 14.057 million customers.

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Dish had added 1,000 pay TV subscribers in 2013, added 89,000 in 2012 and lost 166,000 in 2011.

The company on Monday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $409.9 million, up 42 percent from the year-ago figure and ahead of analysts' expectations. Revenue rose 4 percent to $3.68 billion.

Ergen's direct reports as CEO will include COO Bernie Han and Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, among others.

Twitter: @georgszalai