Ergen: Dish Would Take Sprint Deal Over DirecTV Merger

Dish chief says Sprint pairing would be transforming
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Dish Network chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen told analysts Thursday that given the choice between a merger with No. 1 satellite television service provider DirecTV and the current object of his affection, Sprint-Nextel, he would select the wireless carrier.

Dish has tried to merge with both. Back in 2001 Ergen attempted a $32 billion merger with then-DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics that was rejected by the Federal Communications Commission.   It currently has a $25.5 billion deal on the table for Sprint, which in October agreed to a $20.1 billion acquisition by Japanese wireless giant SoftBank.  Sprint's board of directors is currently evaluating the Dish offer.

"Our preference is Sprint," Ergen said on a conference call with analysts to discuss first quarter results. "That's our focus and that just makes the most sense. Both companies would be transformed in the process. It would become a unique company; it's something that nobody else can do both inside and outside the home. "

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