Ergen looking at “grand strategy”

Charlie Ergen, founder of EchoStar, announced May 16 he was stepping aside from the president/CEO positions at Dish Network, and appointed industry veteran Joe Clayton to replace him. Ergen will stay on as chairman, and he will also chair EchoStar Corp., which looks after set-top box-making for the pay-TV platform.

Clayton told journalists that he will now be managing the day-to-day business while Ergen works on a grand strategy for Dish, which will include integrating the recently acquired Blockbuster video rental business, as well as satellite broadband provider Hughes, and satellite services outfit DBSD.

“Charlie’s never going to be disengaged, but he won’t be burdened by having to worry about the day-to-day,” Clayton said. “He has a bigger role to play now than he ever had.”

The ‘grand strategy’ overview is needed. Dish Network itself has been sluggish of late, with falling subscriber numbers, and facing growing competitive pressures from rival DirecTV as well as increasing powerful cable and telco-based content suppliers.

Clayton said offering additional services, rather than lower prices, may be the key to retaining and adding subscribers for Dish. In years past, Dish targeted price-conscious consumers. “A lot of it has to do with providing value to the consumer,” he added. “It’s not always the cheapest price. It could be the best customer service, the greatest number of channels, more appealing programming and maybe some additional services.”

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