* Adds 8,000 pay-TV subscribers in fourth quarter
* Earnings $0.63/shr vs loss $0.46/shr a year earlier
* Revenue rises 7 pct to $3.54 bln vs est $3.59 bln
Feb 21 Satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp
reported a 38 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on
Friday and the company's chairman said he saw "nothing good" for
competitors if U.S. regulators approve the merger of Comcast
Corp and Time Warner Cable.
Dish shares rose 1.6 percent to $57.97 after it reported
earnings-per-share of 63 cents, beating the 41-cent consensus
forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said the combination of Comcast
and Time Warner Cable would concentrate broadband, video and
content in a "nationwide player."
"That's going to send a seismic shift across our industry
in ways that maybe we can't predict today," he said on a
conference call after the satellite TV provider released its
Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, said on
February 13 that it had agreed to acquire No. 4 Time Warner
Cable in an all-stock deal for $45.2 billion. The proposal faces
reviews from U.S. regulators who will study its effect on
Comcast has argued that the combination would not reduce
competition because the two cable providers do not compete in
any markets. The company pledged to divest 3 million
subscribers, so the combined customer base of 30 million would
represent just under 30 percent of the U.S. pay television video
Ergen said the deal, if approved, "certainly doesn't hurt
the case for consolidation" of satellite TV providers. The U.S.
government blocked a deal between Dish and DirecTV in
"If you take the No. 1 and 4 providers and put them
together, it would be hard to see why you couldn't put the No. 2
and 3 providers together," he said. DirectTV is the nation's
second largest pay TV provider after Comcast, and Dish is third.
Ergen said the merger would create advantages for the cable
operator in negotiations with media companies that supply
programming. "When they can combine and go buy content, they can
go buy content cheaper than anybody else," he said.
"I see nothing good in that transaction for content owners,
broadband providers, or video distribution companies" other than
Comcast and NBC, he said.
Dish is still reviewing the deal's impact and will present
options to its board, Ergen said. He said it was too early to
say if Dish would oppose the merger.
A Comcast spokesman had no comment on Ergen's remarks.
Investors have been waiting to learn more about Dish's
strategy for the wireless spectrum the company has spent
Asked on Friday if he would consider going after wireless
carrier T-Mobile USA to potentially compete against Japanese
mobile operator Softbank, which owns rival Sprint Corp
, Ergen said it was unlikely. Dish tried to derail
Softbank's plans to buy Sprint last year by bidding for the
carrier but ultimately lost.
"Certainly we've had experience competing against Softbank
and (are) realistic to know that we're not going to outbid
Softbank in any transaction," Ergen said.
Ergen said he was "cautiously optimistic" Dish will reach a
deal with Walt Disney Co before the company's next
quarterly conference call. The companies have extended a
now-expired contract and are negotiating the terms for Dish to
carry ESPN and other Disney-onwed networks.
For the quarter that ended in December, Dish said its stable
of U.S. customers reached about 14.1 million as it added 8,000
pay-TV subscribers. The average revenue generated per subscriber
rose 5 percent to $81.24.
Dish's net income for the quarter reached $288 million
compared with $209 million a year earlier. Revenue rose about 7
percent to $3.54 billion.