Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network DTH operator has settled a $210 million (€173m) penalty in its dispute with the US government over breaching telemarketing rules. The case involved claims that “millions” of illegal calls were made to promote satellite TV.
The states of California, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio were also involved in the litigation and the payment will be split with $126 million going to the US and the remaining $84 million divided between the four states.
Telemarketing is generally forbidden and Dish has already paid out $280 million in civil litigation back in 2017 for its actions. At the time this was the largest-ever penalty for violating the country’s ‘Do Not Call’ rules and involved a claimed 65 million telemarketing phone calls.
In its statement, Dish says in now maintains strict telemarketing compliance processes. “While we respectfully disagree with the underlying liability judgment, which involves telemarketing calls made between 2003 and 2011, this matter is now resolved”.
However, the market has taken a somewhat pessimistic view of Dish’s current overall strategy especially as regards its plans for a US national cellular service. For example, Guggenheim securities has downgraded Dish from ‘BUY’ to ‘Neutral’. Its analyst Mike McCormack says: “While we had hoped asset value would have been realised through either a sale of spectrum, or a partnership with a deep-pocketed tech firm, those scenarios are seemingly becoming much less likely.”
Guggenheim says it cannot endorse Dish’s strategy of taking on the whole of the US wireless industry. Dish, says Guggenheim, has less than 10 million prepaid subscribers and a lengthy and expensive market battle ahead.