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DISH and EchoStar secure FCC approvals for merger

FCC divisions the Office of Engineering and Technology, the Space Bureau, and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau have approved the merger of US pay TV operator DISH Network and satellite communications outfit EchoStar, a move seen as crucial to keeping DISH in business over the coming year.

Both DISH and EchoStar are controlled by Charlie Ergen, and were part of the same company – EchoStar – before splitting in 2008. The pair announced their agreement to merge in August in a move that DISH said would combine DISH Network’s satellite technology, streaming services and nationwide 5G network with EchoStar’s premier satellite communications solutions, creating a global leader in terrestrial and non-terrestrial wireless connectivity.

Ergen described the combination as “a strategically and financially compelling combination that is all about growth and building a long-term sustainable business”. The agreement was amended in October to make DISH a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar on completion. Analysts are divided on DISH’s prospects as it seeks to build a sustainable business while servicing a large debt pile in the face of ongoing subscriber losses.

DISH saw its revenues slide to US$3.7 billion in the quarter to September, down from US$4.1 billion for the same period in 2022. Net income dropped from US$412 million to a loss of US$139 million. The company closed the quarter with 8.84 million pay TV subscribers, including 6.72 million DISH TV subscribers and 2.12 million Sling TV streaming subs.

Pay TV losses failed to offset a streaming increase. Sling added 214,000 subscribers, a low number than for the prior year period, which the company attributed to strong competition in the pay video sector.

DISH TV’s rate of loss – 181,000 in the quarter – was actually lower than its prior year rate of loss.

Retail wireless net subscribers decreased by approximately 225,000 in the third quarter, compared to a net increase of 1,000 in the year-ago quarter.

Tags: DISH, EchoStar

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