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Dish Hires Ex-MTV Networks Exec as Chief Marketing Officer

EchoStar Communications’ new chief marketer, Jessica Heacock, is a former MTV Networks executive essentially leaving the cable ranks to join the second-largest U.S. direct-broadcast satellite provider.

The hiring of Heacock, who was an executive vice president in MTVN’s affiliate-sales department before leaving the Viacom programming camp in February, has not been announced yet, and EchoStar representatives did not return messages seeking confirmation. But her appointment was confirmed Wednesday by several TV-industry executives familiar with the situation at EchoStar’s Dish Network. They said she would have the title of chief marketing officer.

Because her new gig is at a satellite-TV provider, Heacock is stepping down as chairwoman of Women in Cable Telecommunications, which does not have DBS executives as members. Heacock is resigning as of Aug. 3, WICT VP of marketing and communications Melissa Northern said.

"She's been tremendous in this role for us," Northern said, noting that WICT hit the 6,000-member mark -- a milestone she attributed to Heacock's passion for the organization.

Jennifer Dangar, senior VP of domestic distribution for Discovery Communications, will move up to the WICT chair from vice chairwoman.

EchoStar has had a fair amount of turnover among top marketers. Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen takes a close personal interest in how Dish is marketed: “In that environment, Charlie is the marketing person,” was how one TV executive, who’s not at EchoStar but works with Dish, put it.

In December 2006, EchoStar marketing senior VP Jody Martin, a former Qwest Communications International marketer, left after a year-and-a-half, replaced by Bobby Billman, who had been hired for a different marketing job at the company. Other past holders of the job include Sí TV CEO Michael Schwimmer, who left Ergen’s employ in 2005.

Heacock -- who earlier held marketing positions at Cox Communications and MTVN’s VH1 -- is said to have a close working relationship with EchoStar president Carl Vogel, another longtime cable- and satellite-TV executive and former CEO of Charter Communications.

Dish had about 13.4 million subscribers as of March 31.