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Wal-Mart Adds First RCA DISH IRDs

Littleton, Colo. – EchoStar Communications today formally confirmed widely rumored reports that it had struck a deal to distribute DISH Network satellite receivers and services through power retailer Wal-Mart.

EchoStar said Wal-Mart would carry RCA-branded satellite TV integrate receiver descrambers (IRDs) – the first fruits of a manufacturing agreement between the satellite provider and Thomson Multimedia – in 1,900 Wal-Mart stores across the country.

EchoStar said installation of the dish antennas sold by Wal-Mart would be performed by DISH Network’s national installation network.

Thomson and EchoStar announced their joint IRD manufacturing agreement shortly after January CES. It marked the first time Thomson – the primary manufacturer of the DirecTV equipment and a developer of that system – manufactured satellite equipment for another U.S. DBS service.

Wal-Mart had previously distributed DirecTV equipment and services.

At the same time, EchoStar announced its ‘WOW – Free Satellite TV’ fall promotion, offering new subscribers 60 channles of basic programming and free system installation for $22.99 per-month.

EchoStar will support the promotion with an extensive nationwide advertising campaign using print, radio and television.

In the program, new subscribers are offered a $12.50 equipment credit each month for a year when they purchase a Dish301 satellite TV system for $149 and subscribe to America’s Top 50 programming package for $22.99 a month.

For two-room system installations, EchoStar offers a $17 equipment credit per month for a year when they purchase two Dish301 receivers for $199 and subscribe to America’s Top 50 programming package.

EchoStar imposes an additional $4.99 monthly fee for programming activation of the second receiver.