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EchoStar Issues Dish Giveaway

By Doug Olenick & Greg Tarr

EchoStar kicked off a promotional program Thursday giving cable customers a Dish 500 system for free when they present their cable bill to a satellite retailer.

The promotion will run through March 31 and will include free installation, said marketing VP Mary Peterson.

The company also introduced: its Dish Player receiver that includes a 17GB hard drive capable of storing 12 hours of video; the Model 6000 receiver with HDTV capability; and the Model 5400 DVD/satellite receiver.

The Dish Player will carry a $299 suggested retail price and start shipping shortly.

Mark Jackson, senior VP of satellite services, said the Dish Player is superior to other hard disk recorders because it is all digital and does not have to convert an analog signal to digital in the set-top box.

The Model 6000, shipping in April with a $499 suggested retail price, is a fully integrated device that can seamlessly switch back and forth between showing a terrestrial or satellite signal.

The Model 5400 DVD/satellite receiver will ship early this summer with a $399 suggested retail price.

In related news, Showtime announced here it will begin delivering East and West Coast feeds of a new Showtime HDTV channel beginning January 23.

The switch will be thrown on the two channels at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times, with Star Trek: Insurrection. Showtime will transmit signals in the 1080i HDTV format and will include 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound.

The network said its HDTV feeds would be offered to affiliates at no additional cost, providing there is no additional charge to subscribers. EchoStar said it will carry the HDTV service on its Dish Network later this April, joining its HBO-HD channel.