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EchoStar Climbs Into Bed with Playboy

EchoStar Communications Corp.'s chairman and CEO,
Charlie Ergen, let his viewers in on a little secret last week: The company has started
uplinking 24-hour-a-day subscription and adult pay-per-view programming to its Dish
Network direct-broadcast satellite service.

Dish Network now offers Playboy Channel for $12.99 per
month and films from Playboy's sister movie service, AdulTVision, for $5.99 each via

During his monthly on-air 'Charlie Chat' to
subscribers, Ergen made the announcement almost apologetically in response to a
subscriber's question. The company had received repeated requests for adult services,
but a vocal segment of Dish Network's subscriber base had also lobbied EchoStar to
keep the service free from adult fare.

'This is one of the toughest decisions that I've
had to make for the company,' Ergen said. 'But ultimately, we had to put the
control into the hands of our customers. Adult programming is legal under the law of the
United States.'

To appease subscribers who may be offended by such fare --
many customers chose Dish Network for its wide variety of religious programming -- the
adult programming will not show up on the electronic programming guide unless it's
specifically requested through EchoStar's customer-service center.

Not to discourage subscribers from shying away from
potentially profitable programming altogether, Ergen went on to demonstrate the
system's parental control features.

The company is expected to announce several new channel
additions to its programming lineup next month. Strong possibilities include MSNBC, Bravo
and American Movie Classics, Ergen and new president John Reardon hinted during the chat.

Later this month, EchoStar is also expected to launch new
foreign-language services, including a Portuguese channel and a French audio-only channel.