MediaFile

Charlie Ergen’s Management Theory: Dumb & Dumber and Seinfeld

YouTube Preview Image Some executives quote philosophers like Plato or legendary coaches such as Vince Lombardi. But not Charlie Ergen; that’s far too high-brow for him. The Dish Network chairman seems to get his theories on management from television and movie comedies.

Just a few quarters after he described Dish’s wireless situation as a “Seinfeld Strategy” (it may not seem clear now but it’ll make sense in the end), the Dish chairman gave a shout out to the Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels 1994 classic comedy “Dumb and Dumber” on Thursday. When asked by an analyst whether Dish would receive government approval to use its wireless assets, Ergen said:

“I’m hoping. You know that Dumb and Dumber line? I think there is a chance.”

The scene he is referring to is posted above.

Ergen, who has played poker and blackjack professionally, also made some analogies to wagering on Thursday. When asked about the odds of the FCC approving the company’s application for wireless spectrum he said:

“I would go broke betting on Washington. I’m about 0-for-100 in Washington.”

Dish’s kangaroo pitchman doesn’t cooperate

Dish Network went kangaroo-crazy at this year’s CES. Not only did a mascot in a kangaroo suit greet attendees at its press conference, but CEO Joe Clayton took to the stage cradling a wallaby, which resembles a small kangaroo.

Whilst Clayton cuddled the marsupial, someone whispered in the audience: “Does PETA know about this?”

The kangaroo schtick promotes the company’s new set-top box, the Hopper, and its smaller counterpart, the Joey. Together, the devices will let Dish customers record six shows at once that can then be watched in four rooms.

What’s Charlie Ergen’s strategy this week?

Satellite TV billionaire Charlie Ergen isn’t a regular on Dish Network’s analyst conference calls these days especially

Charlie Ergen, Reuters archive photo from 1999

since he stepped down in May as chief executive (which he still chairs). But when he makes an appearance, nearly as rare these days as one of those biennial dividends it pays, it’s worth a listen.

After losing more subscribers than expected in the third quarter Dish executives pointed to larger rival DirecTV’s hugely successful NFL football Sunday Ticket giveaway as the primary source of competition.

Charlie Ergen: Satellite cowboy, TV viewer, pitchman

Charlie Ergen is best known in media business circles as the straight talking homely founder of satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp. He’s often been disarmingly honest on quarterly conference calls with Wall Street analysts by admitting that he had personally taken his eye off the ball when the company was losing customers a few years ago or putting his annual family vacation ahead of being present on the quarterly call.

Well Dish Network’s marketing team is hoping that Ergen’s southern gentleman charm can win over new customers or at least keep old ones in the pay-TV wars versus DirecTV Group and the various US cable operators.

Ergen appears in a new in-house produced campaign below talking about his pride in the company he founded, his “embarrassing” picture from his early days, and its recent success in customer service etc.

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

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.

Liberty: Stern is safe — for now

So after two weeks of following all the twists and turns of Sirius XM’s attempts to avoid bankruptcy, CEO Mel Karmazin decided on John Malone, founder of Liberty Media, to come in as Sirius XM’s white knight with a $530 million loan . The loan will cover the satellite radio provider’s looming debt and help it avoid bankruptcy. As part of the deal Liberty will eventually take a 40 percent stake in Sirius’ equity.

But does this mean the big money deals that Karmazin signed with the likes of Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey and Major League Baseball will get re-worked at a more favorable rate for the company now that there’s a new major stakeholder?

No, says Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei in an interview with Reuters.

You can look and say some of these content deals were cut at a time when there were two guys (Sirius and XM) bidding against each other in a relative frenzy. Having said that, a lot of these content relationships like Howard Stern are very valuable to this company, have been important in building the company, and are likely to be important in sustaining it.

Sirius XM shares are — wait for it — higher!

Sirius XM shareholders have seen a lot of dark days — face it, we’re talking about a stock that dropped to 15 cents a share. But today isn’t one of them. At least so far.

Indeed, shares of the satellite radio company jumped 100 percent after Liberty Media Corp agreed to lend it $530 million, allowing Sirius XM and its leader, Mel Karmazin, to sidestep a debt crisis.

The deal comes after a breathless week during which Sirius XM came under threat from EchoStar Corp and its top man Charles Ergen, a longtime rival of Karmazin, and looked very close to bankruptcy.

Karmazin, Ergen and Malone: paper tigers?

When media moguls duke it out, what’s their battleground? Newspapers, evidently.

For the past week, EchoStar boss Charlie Ergen and Sirius XM radio’s CEO Mel Karmazin have been doing battle on the pages of two venerable dailies, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The Journal had a head start on the story, reporting how Ergen had started buying up Sirius debt in an attempt to force the satellite radio company into a deal. Then, it revealed how Ergen had actually made an offer to buy Sirius, which Karmazin rejected.

While the rest of the media was digesting all this, out came the Times with a story that said Sirius was preparing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which could come within days. It had even hired bankruptcy experts, the Times wrote. The Journal quickly swatted that idea down, saying: