On the Call: Dish Network CEO Charles Ergen

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2009 4:46 PM

Dish Network Corp. delighted investors Monday by declaring a special dividend of $2 per share, even as its third-quarter results failed to impress Wall Street.

The nation's second largest satellite TV operator attracted 241,000 net subscribers in the quarter after stepping up promotions. It lowered the cancellation rate in part by extending the contract period from 18 to 24 months for some customers.

Dish CEO Charles Ergen expressed concerns in a conference call with analysts about Comcast Corp. taking control of NBC Universal and gaining market clout to the detriment of competitors.

In Philadelphia, for instance, Dish can't get access to local games aired on Comcast's regional sports network due to a regulatory technicality.

QUESTION: On Comcast-NBC, how do you think that might affect Dish Network?

ANSWER: "Obviously, we would have concerns with anybody who owns programming and ... distribution, particularly if they owned distribution in both broadband and cable. Programming access and broadband neutrality would be important issues there.

"We've purchased programming content from Comcast for a long time. We're not treated fairly when it comes to the sports teams in Philadelphia. That ... has always smelled a little bit. And the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has never seen fit to solve that. So, there always have been some issues there."