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EchoStar Confirms Job Cuts

EchoStar Corp. confirmed that “fewer than 100” of about 4,000 employees were recently laid off amid shifts in the market.

“EchoStar implemented a small reduction in force in late January, in response to recent changes in the marketplace,” Michael T. Dugan, CEO and president of EchoStar, said in a statement. “This reduction in force has impacted fewer than 100 of our nearly 4000 employees. We came to this decision after a careful review of our options, realizing a number of good people would be affected.”

The Denver Post reported first reported of the recent reduction in force, noting that another 1,800  EchoStar employees were moving to corporate cousin Dish Network following an early announced asset transfer.

That transaction, completed today, includes a transfer of certain DBS assets, including a 10% stake in Sling TV from EchoStar and control of EchoStar’s set-top box business.

RELATED: Dish to Consolidate EchoStar DBS Assets

The Post also said EchoStar confirmed that it terminated two office leases last year – one near its Denver area headquarters, and a sublease in Atlanta.

Dish and EchoStar have not confirmed an earlier report, corroborated by industry sources, that they are ceasing the manufacturing of standalone Slingboxes, the iconic place-shifting device whose functions are now integrated in some Dish set-top/receivers and has been obviated in part by the emergence of video apps that run on mobile and TV-connected devices. EchoStar recently shut down “Sage By Hughes,” a do-it-yourself home security/automation product.

RELATED: Sling Media Halts Slingbox Manufacturing: Report

The asset swap comes years after the company split itself into Dish Network (for the pay TV business) and the EchoStar unit, which included the set-top and equipment business.

Dish CEO Charlie Ergen discussed the logic of the original split during the company’s Q4 earnings call last month.

“We had a theory on where we thought the market was going to go,” he said. “Some of those theories didn't turn out to be exactly right.”

One aim was to have EchoStar, as a separate company, sell set-tops to cable operators and into other industries.

That product suite, marketed under the “Aria” brand, failed to gain much traction, and EchoStar eventually scrapped the idea of selling boxes and user interfaces to cable operators.

RELATED: EchoStar Shutting Down U.S. Cable Set-Top Unit