Dish Network Gets Caught In '200 Channel' Scam
Washington, D.C. (April 20,
2010) -- Dish Network CEO
Charlie Ergen was once banned from the Las Vegas casinos for
'counting cards," a practice outlawed in the gambling mecca.
Well, it appears that Ergen was better at counting cards then
than he is today at counting HD channels.
Ergen's company yesterday morning announced that it was adding eight new High-Definition channels
and therefore had become the first in the nation to offer 200
national HD channels.
The claim immediately drew my suspicion. Until yesterday, Dish claimed to offer around 160 high-def
channels. So, I couldn't figure out how Dish got from 160 to 200
by adding eight.
I asked Dish Network's PR department for a list of the 200 HD
channels, numbered from 1 to 200. Not too surprising, the
company was evasive, saying the 200 HD channels could be found
at its web site.
Is that Dish Network CEO Charlie
However, when I told them I could not locate more than around
130 HD channels listed at DishNetwork.com, the company's PR
department got even more evasive -- and started to act a bit
At one point, a company spokeswoman said she could give me a
breakdown of the 200 HD channels on "background only," meaning I
couldn't attribute the information to Dish Network.
That's right. Dish issued a press release earlier in the day
that it now had 200 national HD channels, but it couldn't tell
anyone what they were because it had to be kept secret. (FYI --
I refused to accept the offer of getting the information on
By this time, needless to say, I had come to the conclusion that
Dish's claim of having 200 national HD channels was bogus and
possibly the most amateurish attempt at manipulating the media
I've seen in three decades of journalism.
Finally, late in the day, Dish Network fessed up to Multichannel
News that the 200 HD channel count included 57 HD PPV titles
that were only available on the company's new VIP 922
SlingLoaded DVR. The movies are preloaded on the new DVR, which
was introduced just a few weeks ago.
So, Dish was claiming that 57 HD PPV movies equaled 57 HD
channels -- that is, it was claiming it in secret because it
wouldn't tell anyone about it until it was pestered to death by
For Dish to try to call one single movie a "channel" is just
mind-blowing and stretches the definition of what makes a
channel from here to Timbuktu.
By the way, the Princeton University definition of a TV channel
is as follows:
"a television station and its
programs." Is one movie a television station?
Dish's remaining HD channels are 67 basic cable networks, 23
premium movie channels, four broadcast networks, 13 specialty
channels such as the new EPIX HD channel, 25 regional sports
networks and 15 additional PPV channels.
That comes to 147 HD channels, although one could make a strong
argument that even the regional sports channels and PPV services
should not be counted. Live professional sporting events on the
regionals can not be seen nationally and the PPV channels show
the same movie all day long.
But for Dish to go even further and count 57 movies as 57
channels -- 57 movies that can only be seen on one particular
DVR -- is an embarrassment beyond compare.
Every Dish Network employee today should be hanging his or her
head in total humiliation.
It's not their fault entirely, of course, but they work for a
CEO who clearly believes that bending the rules is okay -- if
you can get away with it.
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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com.
He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast
outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York
Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial
Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can
be reached at
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