Michael Kelly Named Blockbuster President

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Satellite TV firm Dish Network returns to sub growth after three quarters of declines and says Kelly will oversee the newly acquired Blockbuster to return it to profitability and reinvigorate its brand.

NEW YORK – Charlie Ergen's Dish Network on Monday reported a big gain in first-quarter earnings and said it added about 58,000 subscribers in the period, reversing declines of recent quarters.

It also appointed Michael Kelly, previously executive vp of the satellite TV giant’s commercial services division, as well as direct sales and media sales, as the new president of Blockbuster, whose acquisition it closed last week. The company in a statement didn't mention the future of Jim Keyes, who has been Blockbuster's chairman and CEO, but has been expected to leave the CEO post after the deal. A Dish spokesman said Keyes will serve as a special advisor to Ergen.

"Michael was the visionary behind our acquisition of Blockbuster," said Dish chairman and CEO Ergen. "His leadership will be key to returning Blockbuster to profitability and improving the experience we offer to consumers across the U.S. and globally."

Dish ended March with 14.19 million total subscribers. The satellite TV provider had gained 237,000 subscribers in the first quarter a year ago, but lost customers in the three remaining quarters of 2010.

Dish’s profit for the latest quarter amounted to $549 million, more than double the $231 million recorded in the year-ago period.

First-quarter revenue increased 5.5 percent to $3.22 billion.

Analysts said the results exceeded their expectations in many regards.

Dish brought Kelly on board when it acquired his former company Kelly Broadcasting Systems, which distributed international TV and radio programming in the U.S., in 2000.

"Blockbuster can offer more movies to consumers in more ways than any other distributor," said Kelly. "I am excited to work with Blockbuster's dedicated employees and franchisees around the world to reinvigorate the iconic Blockbuster brand and allow consumers easier access to enjoy the more than 125,000 movie and game titles from Blockbuster's neighborhood stores, by-mail service and digital library."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai