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EchoStar to Acquire Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications said late Monday that it struck a deal to acquire Sling Media for cash and stock options worth $380 million combined.

The agreement gives EchoStar control of a new media firm that has built a business in selling Slingbox set-tops, which allow cable and satellite subscribers to remotely access programming from their homes via high-speed Internet connections.

“With today’s increasingly mobile lifestyle, EchoStar’s acquisition of Sling Media will allow us to offer innovative and convenient ways for our customers to enjoy their programming on more displays and locations, including TVs, computers and mobile phones, both inside and outside of the home,” EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen said in the announcement. “This combination paves the way for the development of a host of new innovative products and services for our subscribers, new digital media consumers and strategic partners.”

EchoStar was already an investor in Sling Media, joining a $46.6 million round of financing in January 2006 which also included Goldman, Sachs & Co., Liberty Media, Allen & Co., Doll Capital Management, Mobius Venture Capital and The Hearst Corp.

With EchoStar and rivals such as DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner Cable offering consumers similar programming packages, the Sling Media acquisition could help Dish Network differentiate its product from its competitors.

Sling Media sells Slingbox models at prices ranging from $120 to $250. The Slingbox and SlingPlayer software are available in 5,000 retail stores in 11 countries, according to the company.

EchoStar and Sling Media said they expect the deal to close during the fourth quarter.