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EchoStar Announces 4% Monthly Price Hike

EchoStar Communications will raise its basic subscription rates by $2 per month beginning February 1, the company announced at CES.

The price hike, which equates to about 4 percent over the current $50 per month average subscribers now pay for basic service, was deemed necessary by the direct broadcast satellite (DBS) provider due to rising programming costs and the addition of a number of new basic channels.

EchoStar said the increase is substantially lower than rate hikes recently announced by many cable system operators.

Meanwhile, the company reported that more than 5 million DISH Network homes now have access to 14 interactive TV channels with more to be announced soon.

DISH Home will provide interactive entertainment, news and weather, games, lifestyles and sports, and is available at channel 100.

In new products, EchoStar again showed its DISH PVR921 high-definition-capable combination IRD and digital video recorder that is slated for a second quarter release. It includes a 250GB hard drive, capable of storing up to 250 hours of standard definition content or 40 hours of high-def content.

In a surprise move, EchoStar showed a prototype 36-inch direct-view HD monitor manufactured by Thomson, which it may sell through retail later this year. The monitor could be bundled with a variety of DBS products, including the DISH PRV921.

It features a DVI with HDCP input for connection to the set-top decoders. Pricing has not been set for the product.