Dish makes a change at the top


Charlie Ergen is stepping down from the CEO post at Dish Network, handing over day-to-day control to Joe Clayton (pictured). But Ergen isn’t going away. He’ll still be Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Ergen had already made a similar move at his other company, EchoStar, where he remains as Chairman while Mike Dugan has been CEO for more than a year now.

Joe Clayton is certainly familiar to RBR-TVBR readers. He was CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio for three years through November 2004, when he recruited Mel Karmazin as his successor, and remained as Chairman through July 2008. It was Clayton who negotiated the deal to bring Howard Stern to Sirius. Clayton has been a Director of EchoStar since 2008.

“Joe is a 38-year veteran of the consumer electronics, telecommunications and satellite communications industries and I am pleased to have him lead Dish Network as president and CEO,” said Ergen. “Joe brings an enormous amount of executive-level experience in the satellite and consumer electronics industries, including positions at RCA, General Electric and Thomson, and we look forward to his leadership as we continue to deliver video entertainment into the future.”

“I am very excited to take on this new challenge. My working relationship with Charlie spans nearly 20 years, and I look forward to building on Dish Network’s legacy of innovation and value in TV entertainment,” said Clayton.

The announcement Monday morning came as a surprise, since there had been no hint that such a change was imminent, but Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker called it a “positive event” in the long run for shareholders. “We do NOT view this as a sign that Charlie is ”giving up” on the satellite business. In fact, we view this announcement as a BIG POSITIVE from a timing perspective – to us, it means that Dish is in good enough shape for Charlie to feel comfortable handing over the reins to someone else,” she said in a note to clients.

RBR-TVBR observation: Charlie Ergen isn’t going anywhere. He’s still a huge player in the satellite business and owns tons of stock in both Dish and EchoStar. All he’s done is take care of CEO succession in a very careful and deliberate way.