Satellite AMC-14 Had a Bad Day

A new Ku-band satellite that was to be used by satellite-TV service Dish Network to increase its slate of HD channels failed to reach orbit after being launched from Kazakhstan March 14.

The AMC-14 satellite—owned by SES Americom and under contract to EchoStar Corp., which provides satellite capacity for the Dish Network service—launched normally. But the Lockheed Martin-built satellite failed to reach its planned orbit, according to a statement from launch vendor International Launch Services. A Russian state commission will investigate the failure.

Regardless of the reason, the loss of AMC-14 casts significant doubt on Dish Network's plan to expand from 50-odd HD channels to 70-100 in order to better compete with DirecTV, says Craig Moffett, a Sanford C. Bernstein analyst. In a research note to investors, Moffett declared that the competitiveness of Dish's HD offering has "suffered a major blow."