By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen this month flew to Dubai to seek investors for his financially strapped satellite TV company, the New York Post’s Lydia Moynihan reports in an article published yesterday.
The company has lost millions of satellite subscribers over the last several years and Ergen has invested heavily in a plan to build a 5G wireless network that would serve 70 percent of the United States by the summer. However, the 5G plan has stalled and the FCC could force Ergen to give up the 5G spectrum he spent billions on in government auctions.
“The problem for Dish is the company must spend billions to build out the 5G network at the same time it is hemorrhaging customers on (satellite),” Moynihan writes.
During the company’s first quarter earnings call, Ergen this month acknowledged that Dish has a sizable debt. But he said the company has faced similar problems since its launch decades ago and it has always found a solution.
But the Post quotes one anonymous industry official as saying this situation could be different.
“They need a white knight to save them from their financial situation,” the source told the newspaper. “Otherwise they’ve got to be considering all options — including bankruptcy.”
S&P Global Ratings recently said Dish’s financial position “may be unsustainable long term.”
Dish could seek an extension from the FCC on building the 5G network. The Post writes that Ergen has been seen recently in the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Ergen hinted late last year that a merger with its satellite rival, DIRECTV, could be in the works. But it’s unclear if Dish’s current financial crisis would make that more or less likely.
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— Phillip Swann