DISH lost subscribers in first quarter

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Posted by on May 11, 2009 at 11:36:50:

In Reply to: Despite bankruptcy, Charter posts strong results posted by on May 08, 2009 at 18:18:51:

Jeff Richgels | May 11, 2009

While DirecTV last week reported that it added the most subscribers in a quarter in four years in the first quarter, DISH Network on Monday reported that it lost 94,000 net subscribers in the same time frame, the Associated Press reported.

DISH blamed the loss on the recession, signal theft and increased competition due to slowing growth in the pay-TV industry.

DISH also pointed the finger at itself in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it has "not always met our own standards for performing high quality installations." The satellite TV provider also said it fell short at times in other areas, including answering customers' calls in an acceptable timeframe, communicating with its subscribers and resolving customers' problems.

In addition, DISH, which aims to be the low-priced leader among pay-TV providers, said its position was eroded by aggressive discounting by its rivals.

And the loss of a distribution deal with AT&T to DirecTV took a bite out of subscriber numbers as well. The agreement, which ended in January, had contributed about 17 percent of DISH's gross subscriber additions for the year ended Dec. 31. For the quarter, AT&T contributed 5 percent of gross subscriber additions.

DISH said that if it does not come up with another distribution deal to replace the one it had with AT&T, its subscriber additions could decline further and its churn -- or customer turnover rate -- could increase.

DISH had lost 102,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2008.

DISH said equipment sales did help it post first-quarter earnings of $312.7 million, or 70 cents per share, up 21 percent from $258.6 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a profit of 56 cents per share. Revenues grew 2.1 percent to $2.91 billion from $2.84 billion to meet analysts' estimates.

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