EchoStar takes $2 rate hike

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After heavily pushing itself as a discount video service, direct-broadcast satellite operation
EchoStar Communications Corp. raised its basic rates $2 per month -- as much as 9 percent for many
of its customers.

The lowest package, "America's Top 50," will rise 8.7 percent to
$24.99. "America's Top 100" increased 6.3 percent to $33.99 per month, and "America's Top 150"
rises 4.9 percent to $42.99.

The company said that on average, customers will see their bills -- including
the cost of premium channels and pay-per-view movies -- rise 4 percent.

The boost is a bit higher than cable operators' 5 percent to 6 percent increases this
year.

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. media analysts Jessica Reif Cohen and Marc Nabi said the
move may provide some relief "to operators suffering the most from DBS
aggressive discounting, namely Charter [Communications Inc.] and AT&T Broadband . there does not
seem to be any big price difference between cable and DBS when comparing similar
packages. Dish's America's Top 100 package at $33.99 with an additional $6 for
local channels would total $40, which is roughly equivalent to AT&T
Broadband's expanded-basic package price."

AT&T Broadband was recently acquired by Comcast Corp.

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