Copyright 2003 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York, NY)...01/10/2003

Lexis Nexis

Just one month after its planned merger with DirecTV fell through, EchoStar Communications announced yesterday that it is raising basic rates for its Dish Network satellite TV service by $2 per month.

EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen had said the merger's collapse, which was blocked by federal regulators, would lead to higher prices at Dish, which has 8 million customers.

The increase, which takes effect Feb. 1, translates to 8.7 percent for the lowest priced package, called America's Top 50, whose fee will rise from $22.99 to $24.99 per month. It would then be frozen until 2005. Overall, for the average customer, who pays about $50 per month, the increase equals 4 percent.

Several foreign-language and sports packages will rise by $1 per month, including Dish Latino, which rises to $32.99. "Rising programming costs and the addition of a variety of new basic channels necessitated the Dish Network increase," the company said.

DirecTV, which has 11 million customers and which increased monthly prices by $ 2 in 2000, may also raise rates.

Cablevision Systems Corp. is raising cable TV rates by an average of 5.3 percent, including increases of as much as 9.9 percent for its Family Cable package. Time Warner Cable is raising rates for its standard package in New York City by more than 6.5 percent.