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EchoStar Earnings Move Into The Red

Englewood, Colo. — Dish Network satellite digital-television services provider EchoStar Communications recorded a first quarter 16 percent increase in revenue, hitting $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the year-ago period.

But the company reported a net loss of $42.9 million in the first three months, compared with net income of $57.9 million year-on-year, due primarily to $78 million in charges associated with the early redemption of bonds. The pro forma net loss was $47.1 million in the first quarter, compared with a pro forma profit of $53.8 million in the same three months last year.

EchoStar reported the addition of about 360,000 subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31, compared with about 350,000 in the same quarter in 2003. Total subscribers reached about 9.8 million at the end of the period, up from 8.5 million on hand after the first quarter a year earlier — an increase of 14.7 percent.

EchoStar reported higher acquisition costs per subscriber in the first quarter, hitting $530, up from $448 in the same three months a year earlier. The increase primarily resulted from an increase in the sale of equipment at little or no cost to the subscriber, including a promotion in which subscribers were eligible to receive up to three free receivers or a free digital video recorder.

Average revenue per subscriber moved up to $51.76 in the first three months from $51.60 in the same period in 2003, due primarily to price increases on most popular Dish packages.