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Ergen to star in House hearing

EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen is scheduled to sit in the spotlight at back-to-back hearings on his company's proposed purchase of Hughes Electronics in the House of Representatives next Tuesday.

The House Judiciary Committee will examine potential antitrust issues surrounding the merger of the nation's two largest satellite TV firms, while a House Commerce Subcommittee will look at whether the broader multichannel market will remain competitive if the merger is approved. The Judiciary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., and the Commerce hearing will begin at 2 p.m.

Witnesses scheduled to appear at the Commerce hearing include Michael Fiorile, president of the Dispatch Broadcast Group, representing the National Association of Broadcasters.

NAB is expected to oppose the merger, sources say.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Robert Sachs also plans to testify.

Other companies that have been invited to testify include WSNet, Pegasus, DirecTV and the American Cable Association. A committee spokesman said News Corp. was invited to testify, but declined. - Paige Albiniak