twice connect

Clayton's Back And DISH Has Him

5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
ENGLEWOOD, COLO. – Joe Clayton’s return to the home entertainment industry joining DISH Network as its president/CEO had to be a surprise to many last week.

Yet it makes perfect sense. Only someone with Clayton’s background, selling RCA TVs, introducing rival DirecTV, and becoming CEO and later chairman of Sirius Satellite Radio, could take on some of the responsibilities of the company’s founder, Charlie Ergen, who will remain as chairman.

Clayton, who has already been named to Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame back in 2008 when he also became a board member of sister company Echostar, officially begins his job on June 20 when he also becomes a member of the DISH Network board.

But knowing him has many do in the CE business for years it is not surprising he was already on the job for a couple of days prior to the official start date. “I’ve been here two or three days going through HR and looking at houses,” Clayton told TWICE in a telephone interview last week.

So it wasn’t a shock that Clayton had a few candid views on his immediate plans for DISH and opinions on technologies being rolled out by CE suppliers:

TWICE: Why did you decide to come to the DISH Network? What is the attraction?

Clayton: Charlie [Ergen] has approached me several times, but this time it was different. He’s added DBS spectrum, we are going to offer broadband and there is the Blockbuster deal where we can do physical distribution. I could see [Ergen] is trying to craft something different here with data and video.

TWICE: What is the biggest challenge DISH and the satellite/cable TV industries in general are facing given the rollout of Internet TV?

Clayton: Technology always changes the landscape so that is nothing new. We have to improve our operations and financials, basic blocking and tackling. But for the consumer we have to provide better value, enhanced services… really adding additional services to the equation. I see these technology changes… as an evolution.

TWICE: What are your goals for DISH in the first 60 to 90 days you come on board full time?

Clayton: I want to focus on improving our subscriptions and cash flow. From my background I want to improve retention [of subscribers] and get churn down. That is no different than what DirecTV and Sirius have to do.

TWICE: What’s your view of the other big development in TV during the past year and half, 3D?

Clayton: I’ve been looking at 3D for 35 years, since I first saw it at the Sarnoff Center [at RCA]. I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but… it’s still not here, not a mainstream product yet. Not like we have been used to. But there is an opportunity for 3D because going forward it has to be better and we are looking at it to be part of [DISH’s] mix.

TWICE: Of course some of your old friends in the CE business would like to know if you are going to change distribution somewhat, so they can begin selling satellite TV like they did years ago?

Clayton: All I can say is that if you look at my past, I have been able to commercialize technologies develop brands and sell products efficiently. But I can tell you what I won’t do.

What’s that?

Clayton: Hire Howard Stern!
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