Dish’s Charlie Ergen: Me and Mel don’t have a beef

March 2, 2009

Ah the media, we love a ruckus. We really do. And when the two pugilists are characters as colorful and savvy as Dish Network’s founder Charlie Ergen (left) and Siriux XM Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin (right) we do really get excited.

If you remember, Ergen was widely reported last month to have made a back door bid to take a stake in Sirius XM by quietly buying up some of the satellite radio company’s outstanding debt.  Analysts and experts came up with all kind of theories as to Ergen’s ambitions including taking complete control of Sirius on the cheap, combining various satellite assets, and kicking Mel out.

At the time Ergen ‘s official channels at Dish and EchoStar declined to comment on the matter. So today’s Dish earning call was the first time we heard from the man himself on the matter. Well, it turns out the press was right on most things connected with the Sirius bid, according to Ergen. Except for one thing: he does not have bad blood with Sirius CEO Karmazin.

Here’s Ergen from the conference call:

I would take this opportunity to say one thing that clearly was not true is there wasn’t, at least I can speak for my end, there’s no annimosity toward Mel, Parsons [former XM chair] or anything like that.

I don’t know where they got that. Certainly not from our side.


Maybe the stories of an old feud were overplayed, but there might have something other than pure cold financial logic that influenced Mel’s final decision on this deal. Liberty Media beat Ergen in the bid for a stake in the beleaguered satellite radio business by offering to pay off Sirius’ due loans. In an interview with Reuters shortly after winning the Sirius bid last month, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei implied there may have been some… ahem, personality issues in its favor.

“There clearly is less enthusiasm for Charlie from some members of Sirius XM,” said Maffei.

We wonder which members those were?

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