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Dish, L.A. Club Sign Hispanic Affinity Deal

Pueblo Corp. last week agreed to market Echo- Star Communications Corp.'s Dish Network and Dish Latino direct-broadcast satellite television services to its 200,000 Hispanic affinity club members in the Los Angeles area.

For an annual fee of about $25, Pueblo members get discounts on entertainment, travel, insurance and other services. The company sold its first membership about a year-and-a-half ago, and it plans to expand to 10 other markets with large Hispanic populations, such as Miami, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix by 2001.

Pueblo will offer its members free installation and rebates with the purchase of new Dish hardware systems. Pueblo, in turn, will enjoy the same economics as other Dish retailers, such as service-activation commissions, EchoStar Western region vice president of sales and distribution Tom Stingley said.

Dish will be marketed to Pueblo members through outbound telemarketing from Pueblo's California-based call center, as well as through a monthly member magazine and the company's Web site. EchoStar will not have direct access to Pueblo's customer list.

Stingley said he believes Pueblo members will be interested in Dish programming in addition to the Dish Latino Spanish-language package. Home Box Office and Showtime, for example, offer secondary audio feeds in Spanish.

And because not all Pueblo members are first-generation Hispanic Americans, he also sees demand for English- language fare such as Dish's "America's Top 40" package.

Dish Latino features Mexican broadcast channel TV Azteca, an exclusive in the United States, Stingley said. Late last week, however, TV Azteca announced that it would launch a U.S.-based Spanish-language television network.

"We selected EchoStar for its extensive Spanish-language programming," Pueblo president Federico Herrera said in a press release. "We understand the impact of television and the need for Hispanic Americans to have access to news and entertainment in their native tongue."

In addition to TV Azteca, Dish Latino features Telemundo Internacional, Cine Latino, Discovery en Español, Fox Sports Español, Galavisión, Gems Television, Gran Canal Latino, HTV, Playboy en Español, MTVS, SUR, TV Chile, Telemundo and Univision. And six audio channels of "Dish CD Latin" are included in the package.

Dish Latino subscriptions are $19.95 per month or $220 per year. DBS competitor DirecTV Inc. also offers a Spanish-language package, DirecTV Para Todos, but it bundles English-language programming in the same subscription.

Dish Latino subscribers require the newer "Dish 500" systems, which can access programming from both 119 and 110 degrees west longitude.

Stingley said EchoStar is considering deals with other affinity programs, but he would not give details.