10-K 1 a11-31127_110k.htm 10-K

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C.  20549

 

Form 10-K

 

(Mark One)

 

x

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2011

 

OR

 

o

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                                TO                                 .

 

Commission file number: 0-26176

 

DISH Network Corporation

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Nevada

 

88-0336997

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

 

9601 South Meridian Boulevard

 

 

Englewood, Colorado

 

80112

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (303) 723-1000

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which 
registered

Class A common stock, $0.01 par value

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market L.L.C.

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes x No o

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes o No x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes x  No o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).  Yes x  No o

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter)  is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  x

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company.  See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer x

 

Accelerated filer o

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer o

 

Smaller reporting company o

(Do not check if a smaller reporting
company)

 

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes £  No T

 

As of June 30, 2011, the aggregate market value of Class A common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $6.2 billion based upon the closing price of the Class A common stock as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as of the close of business on that date.

 

As of February 14, 2012, the registrant’s outstanding common stock consisted of 208,668,014 shares of Class A common stock and 238,435,208 shares of Class B common stock, each $0.01 par value.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

The following documents are incorporated into this Form 10-K by reference:

 

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement to be filed in connection with its 2012 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference in Part III.

 

 

 



Table of Contents

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

i

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

19

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

36

Item 2.

Properties

37

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

37

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

44

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

44

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

46

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

47

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

71

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

72

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

72

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

73

Item 9B.

Other Information

74

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

74

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

74

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

74

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

74

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

74

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

74

 

 

 

 

Signatures

82

 

Index to Consolidated Financial Statements

F-1

 



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DISCLOSURE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

We make “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 throughout this report.  Whenever you read a statement that is not simply a statement of historical fact (such as when we describe what we “believe,” “intend,” “plan,” “estimate,” “expect” or “anticipate” will occur and other similar statements), you must remember that our expectations may not be achieved, even though we believe they are reasonable.  We do not guarantee that any future transactions or events described herein will happen as described or that they will happen at all.  You should read this report completely and with the understanding that actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.  Whether actual events or results will conform with our expectations and predictions is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties.  For further discussion see “Item 1A.  Risk Factors.”  The risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

Competition and Economic Risks Affecting our Business

 

·                  We face intense and increasing competition from satellite television providers, cable companies and telecommunications companies, especially as the pay-TV industry matures, which may require us to increase subscriber acquisition and retention spending or accept lower subscriber activations and higher subscriber churn.

 

·                  Competition from digital media companies that provide or facilitate the delivery of video content via the Internet may reduce our gross new subscriber activations and may cause our subscribers to purchase less services from us or to cancel our services altogether, resulting in less revenue to us.

 

·                  Economic weakness, including higher unemployment and reduced consumer spending, may adversely affect our ability to grow or maintain our business.

 

·                  Our competitors may be able to leverage their relationships with programmers so that they are able to reduce their programming costs and offer exclusive content that will place them at a competitive advantage to us.

 

·                  We face increasing competition from other distributors of foreign language programming that may limit our ability to maintain our foreign language programming subscriber base.

 

Operational and Service Delivery Risks Affecting our Business

 

·                  If we do not continue improving our operational performance and customer satisfaction, our gross new subscriber activations may decrease and our subscriber churn may increase.

 

·                  If our gross new subscriber activations decrease, or if subscriber churn, subscriber acquisition costs or retention costs increase, our financial performance will be adversely affected.

 

·                  Programming expenses are increasing and could adversely affect our future financial condition and results of operations.

 

·                  We depend on others to provide the programming that we offer to our subscribers and, if we lose access to this programming, our gross new subscriber activations may decline and subscriber churn may increase.

 

·                  We may be required to make substantial additional investments to maintain competitive programming offerings.

 

·                  Any failure or inadequacy of our information technology infrastructure could harm our business.

 

·                  We rely on EchoStar Corporation, or EchoStar, to design and develop all of our new set-top boxes and certain related components, and to provide transponder capacity, digital broadcast operations and other services to us.  Our business would be adversely affected if EchoStar ceases to provide these products and services to us and we are unable to obtain suitable replacement products and services from third parties.

 

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·                  We operate in an extremely competitive environment and our success may depend in part on our timely introduction and implementation of, and effective investment in, new competitive products and services, the failure of which could negatively impact our business.

 

·                  Technology in our industry changes rapidly and our inability to offer new subscribers and upgrade existing subscribers with more advanced equipment could cause our products and services to become obsolete.

 

·                  We rely on a single vendor or a limited number of vendors to provide certain key products or services to us such as information technology support, billing systems, and security access devices, and the inability of these key vendors to meet our needs could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

·                  Our sole supplier of new set-top boxes, EchoStar, relies on a few suppliers and in some cases a single supplier, for many components of our new set-top boxes, and any reduction or interruption in supplies or significant increase in the price of supplies could have a negative impact on our business.

 

·                  Our programming signals are subject to theft, and we are vulnerable to other forms of fraud that could require us to make significant expenditures to remedy.

 

·                  We depend on third parties to solicit orders for DISH services that represent a significant percentage of our total gross new subscriber activations.

 

·                  Our local programming strategy faces uncertainty because we may not be able to obtain necessary retransmission consent agreements at acceptable rates from local network stations.

 

·                  We have limited owned and leased satellite capacity and failures or reduced capacity could adversely affect our business.

 

·                  Our owned and leased satellites are subject to construction, launch, operational and environmental risks that could limit our ability to utilize these satellites.

 

·                  We generally do not have commercial insurance coverage on the satellites we use and could face significant impairment charges if one of our satellites fails.

 

·                  We may have potential conflicts of interest with EchoStar due to our common ownership and management.

 

·                  We rely on key personnel and the loss of their services may negatively affect our businesses.

 

Acquisition and Capital Structure Risks Affecting our Business

 

·                  We have agreed to acquire certain spectrum and other assets from DBSD North America and TerreStar and we have paid substantially all of the purchase price for these acquisitions.  If we are unable to obtain certain regulatory approvals and waivers, or they are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, the value of these assets may be impaired. To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, we will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these assets.

 

·                  We have made a substantial investment in certain 700 MHz wireless licenses and will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.

 

·                  Our Blockbuster business, and retail stores in particular, face risks, including, among other things, operational challenges and increasing competition from video rental kiosk, streaming and mail order businesses that may negatively impact the business, financial condition or results of operations of Blockbuster.

 

·                  We may pursue acquisitions and other strategic transactions to complement or expand our business that may not be successful and we may lose up to the entire value of our investment in these acquisitions and transactions.

 

·                  We may need additional capital, which may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, to continue investing in our business and to finance acquisitions and other strategic transactions.

 

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·                  A portion of our investment portfolio is invested in securities that have experienced limited or no liquidity and may not be immediately accessible to support our financing needs.

 

·                  We have substantial debt outstanding and may incur additional debt.

 

·                  It may be difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so may be beneficial to our shareholders, because of our ownership structure.

 

·                  We are controlled by one principal stockholder who is also our Chairman.

 

Legal and Regulatory Risks Affecting our Business

 

·                  If Voom prevails in its breach of contract suit against us, we could be required to pay substantial damages, which would have a material adverse affect on our financial position and results of operations.

 

·                  Our business depends on certain intellectual property rights and on not infringing the intellectual property rights of others.

 

·                  We are party to various lawsuits which, if adversely decided, could have a significant adverse impact on our business, particularly lawsuits regarding intellectual property.

 

·                  Increased distribution of video content via the Internet could expose us to regulatory risk.

 

·                  We depend on the Cable Act for access to programming from cable-affiliate programmers at non-discriminatory rates.

 

·                  The injunction against our retransmission of distant networks, which is currently waived, may be reinstated.

 

·                  We are subject to significant regulatory oversight, and changes in applicable regulatory requirements, including any adoption or modification of laws or regulations relating to the Internet, could adversely affect our business.

 

·                  Our business depends on Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, licenses that can expire or be revoked or modified and applications for FCC licenses that may not be granted.

 

·                  We are subject to digital high-definition (“HD”) “carry-one, carry-all” requirements that cause capacity constraints.

 

·                  There can be no assurance that there will not be deficiencies leading to material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.

 

·                  We may face other risks described from time to time in periodic and current reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC.

 

All cautionary statements made herein should be read as being applicable to all forward-looking statements wherever they appear.  Investors should consider the risks described herein and should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.  We assume no responsibility for updating forward-looking information contained or incorporated by reference herein or in other reports we file with the SEC.

 

In this report, the words “DISH Network,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to DISH Network Corporation and its subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires.  “EchoStar” refers to EchoStar Corporation and its subsidiaries.  “DDBS” refers to DISH DBS Corporation and its subsidiaries, a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of DISH Network.

 

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PART I

 

Item 1.                       BUSINESS

 

OVERVIEW

 

DISH Network Corporation is the nation’s third largest pay-TV provider, with approximately 13.967 million customers across the United States as of December 31, 2011 (the “DISH” pay-TV service).  We were organized in 1995 as a corporation under the laws of the State of Nevada and started offering the DISH pay-TV service in March 1996.

 

Our common stock is publicly traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “DISH.”  Our principal executive offices are located at 9601 South Meridian Boulevard, Englewood, Colorado 80112 and our telephone number is (303) 723-1000.

 

On April 26, 2011, we completed the acquisition of most of the assets of Blockbuster, Inc. (the “Blockbuster Acquisition”).  We acquired Blockbuster operations in the United States and in certain foreign countries.  Blockbuster primarily offers movies and video games for sale and rental through multiple distribution channels such as retail stores, by-mail, digital devices, the blockbuster.com website and the BLOCKBUSTER On Demand service.

 

During the first half of 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America Inc. (“DBSD North America”) for approximately $1.4 billion upon DBSD North America’s emergence from bankruptcy.  In addition, in June 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire substantially all of the assets of TerreStar Networks, Inc. (“TerreStar”) for a purchase price of $1.375 billion (the “TerreStar Transaction”).  These acquisitions are subject to certain conditions, including approval by the FCC.  Additionally, during the fourth quarter 2011, we and Sprint Nextel Corporation (“Sprint”) entered into a mutual release and settlement agreement (“Sprint Settlement Agreement”) pursuant to which all disputed issues relating to our acquisition of DBSD North America and the TerreStar Transaction were resolved between us and Sprint, including, but not limited to, issues relating to costs allegedly incurred by Sprint to relocate users from the spectrum now licensed to DBSD North America and TerreStar.  Pursuant to the Sprint Settlement Agreement, we made a net payment of approximately $114 million to Sprint.  For more information, see “New Business Opportunities — Spectrum Investments” of this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

Business Strategy

 

Our business strategy is to be the best provider of video services in the United States by providing high-quality products, outstanding customer service, and great value.  We promote DISH® programming packages as providing our subscribers with a better “price-to-value” relationship than those available from other subscription television providers.  We believe that there continues to be unsatisfied demand for high-quality, reasonably priced television programming services.

 

·                  High-Quality Products.  We offer a wide selection of local and national programming, featuring more national and local HD channels than most pay-TV providers.  We have been a technology leader in our industry, introducing award-winning DVRs, dual tuner receivers, 1080p video on demand, and external hard drives.  To maintain and enhance our competitiveness over the long term, we recently introduced a new whole-home HD DVR receiver (the Hopper) that allows, among other things, recorded programming to be viewed in HD in multiple rooms.  We are also promoting a suite of integrated products designed to maximize the convenience and ease of watching TV anytime and anywhere, which we refer to as TV Everywhere which utilizes, among other things, online access and Slingbox “placeshifting” technology.

 

·                  Outstanding Customer Service.  We strive to provide outstanding customer service by improving the quality of the initial installation of subscriber equipment, improving the reliability of our equipment, better educating our customers about our products and services, and resolving customer problems promptly and effectively when they arise.

 

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·                  Great Value.  We have historically been viewed as the low-cost provider in the pay-TV industry in the U.S. because we seek to offer the lowest everyday prices available to consumers after introductory promotions expire.

 

Programming.  We provide programming that includes more than: (i) 230 basic video channels, (ii) 60 Sirius Satellite Radio music channels, (iii) 30 premium movie channels, (iv) 35 regional and specialty sports channels, (v) 3,200 standard definition and high definition local channels, (vi) 275 Latino and international channels, and (vii) 70 channels of pay-per-view content.  Although we distribute over 3,200 local channels, a subscriber typically may only receive the local channels available in the subscriber’s home market.  As of December 31, 2011, we provided local channels in standard definition in all 210 TV markets in the U.S. and local channels in HD in more than 170 markets in the U.S., serving approximately 97% of TV households.

 

Receiver Systems.  Our subscribers receive programming via equipment that includes a small satellite dish, digital set-top receivers, and remote controls.  Some of our advanced receiver models feature DVRs, HD capability, multiple tuners (which allow independent viewing on separate televisions) and Internet-protocol compatibility (which allows consumers to view movies and other content on their televisions via the Internet and a broadband connection).  We rely on EchoStar to design and manufacture all of our new receivers and certain related components.  See “Item 1A — Risk Factors.”

 

DISHOnline.com.  DISHOnline.com gives DISH subscribers the ability to watch television programs, movies, and clips online at no additional charge with their paid subscription to qualifying programming and compatible equipment.  DISHOnline.com offers more than 270,000 movies, television shows, clips and trailers.

 

Blockbuster@Home.  Blockbuster@Home gives DISH subscribers access to more than 100,000 DVD movies, TV shows and games by mail with unlimited in-store exchanges, streaming access to more than 10,000 movies and TV shows via their TV and online access to more than 25,000 movies and TV shows via their computer.

 

DISH Remote Access.  DISH’s free remote access (“DISH Remote Access”) gives subscribers the ability to remotely control certain features of their DVRs using compatible devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers.

 

Content Delivery

 

Digital Broadcast Operations Centers.  The principal digital broadcast operations facilities we use are EchoStar’s facilities located in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Gilbert, Arizona.  We also use four regional digital broadcast operations facilities and four micro digital broadcast operations facilities owned and operated by EchoStar that allow us to maximize the use of the spot beam capabilities of certain owned and leased satellites.  Programming content is delivered to these facilities by fiber or satellite and processed, compressed, encrypted and then uplinked to satellites for delivery to consumers.  EchoStar provides certain broadcast services to us, including teleport services such as transmission and downlinking, channel origination services, and channel management services pursuant to a broadcast agreement for a period ending on December 31, 2016.  See Note 20 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion of our Related Party Transactions with EchoStar.

 

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Satellites.  Our DISH programming is currently delivered to customers using satellites that operate in the “Ku” band portion of the microwave radio spectrum.  The Ku-band is divided into two spectrum segments.  The portion of the Ku-band that allows the use of higher power satellites – 12.2 to 12.7 GHz over the United States – is known as the Broadcast Satellite Service band, which is also referred to as the Direct Broadcast Satellite (“DBS”) band.  The portion of the Ku-band that utilizes lower power satellites – 11.7 to 12.2 GHz over the United States – is known as the Fixed Satellite Service (“FSS”) band.

 

Most of our programming is currently delivered using DBS satellites.  To accommodate more bandwidth-intensive HD programming and other needs, we continue to explore opportunities to expand our satellite capacity through the acquisition of new spectrum, the launching of more technologically advanced satellites, and the more efficient use of existing spectrum via, among other things, better modulation and compression technologies.

 

We own or lease capacity on 13 satellites in geostationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the equator.  For further information concerning these satellites and satellite anomalies, please see the table and discussion under “Satellites” below.

 

Conditional Access SystemOur conditional access system secures our programming content using encryption so that only authorized customers can access our programming.  We use microchips embedded in credit card-sized access cards, called “smart cards,” or security chips in our receiver systems to control access to authorized programming content (“Security Access Devices”).

 

Our signal encryption has been compromised in the past and may be compromised in the future even though we continue to respond with significant investment in security measures, such as Security Access Device replacement programs and updates in security software, that are intended to make signal theft more difficult.  It has been our prior experience that security measures may only be effective for short periods of time or not at all and that we remain susceptible to additional signal theft.  During 2009, we completed the replacement of our Security Access Devices and re-secured our system.  We expect additional future replacements of these devices will be necessary to keep our system secure.  We cannot ensure that we will be successful in reducing or controlling theft of our programming content and we may incur additional costs in the future if our system’s security is compromised.

 

Distribution Channels

 

While we offer receiver systems and programming through direct sales channels, a majority of our new subscriber activations are generated through independent third parties such as small satellite retailers, direct marketing groups, local and regional consumer electronics stores, nationwide retailers, and telecommunications companies.  In general, we pay these independent third parties a mix of upfront and monthly incentives to solicit orders for our services.  In addition, we partner with certain telecommunications companies to bundle DISH programming with broadband and voice services on a single bill.

 

Competition

 

As of December 31, 2011, our 13.967 million subscribers represent approximately 14% of pay-TV subscribers in the United States.  We face substantial competition from established pay-TV providers and increasing competition from companies providing/facilitating the delivery of video content via the Internet to computers, televisions, and mobile devices.  As of September 30, 2011, more than 99 million households subscribe to a pay-TV service.

 

·                  Other Direct Broadcast Satellite Operators.  We compete directly with the DirecTV Group, Inc., or DirecTV, the largest satellite TV provider in the U.S. which had 19.8 million subscribers as of September 30, 2011, representing approximately 20% of pay-TV subscribers.

 

·                  Cable Television Companies.  We encounter substantial competition in the pay-TV industry from numerous cable television companies that operate via franchise licenses across the U.S.  According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, 98% of U.S. housing units are passed by cable.  As of September 30, 2011, cable television companies have more than 58.3 million subscribers, representing approximately 58% of pay-TV subscribers.  Cable companies are typically able to bundle their video

 

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services with broadband Internet access and voice services and many have significant investments in companies that provide programming content.

 

·                  Telecommunications Companies.  Large telecommunications companies have upgraded older copper wire lines with fiber optic lines in certain markets.  These fiber optic lines provide high capacity bandwidth, enabling telecommunications companies to offer video content that can be bundled with their broadband Internet access and voice services.  In particular, AT&T and Verizon have built fiber-optic based networks to provide video services in substantial portions of their service areas.  As of September 30, 2011, AT&T and Verizon had approximately 3.6 million U-verse and 4.0 million FiOS TV subscribers, respectively.  These telecommunications companies represent approximately 8% of pay-TV subscribers.

 

·                  Internet Delivered Video.  We face competition from content providers who distribute video directly to consumers over the Internet.  Programming offered over the Internet has become more prevalent as the speed and quality of broadband networks have improved.  Significant changes in consumer behavior with regard to the means by which they obtain video entertainment and information in response to this emerging digital media competition could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition or otherwise disrupt our business.

 

·                  Wireless Mobile Video.  We also expect to face increasing competition from wireless telecommunications providers who offer mobile video offerings.  We expect mobile video offerings will likely become more prevalent in the marketplace as wireless telecommunications providers implement and expand the fourth generation of wireless communications.

 

Acquisition of New Subscribers

 

We incur significant upfront costs to acquire subscribers, including advertising, retailer incentives, equipment subsidies and installation.  In addition, customer promotions to acquire new subscribers result in less revenue to us over the promotional period.  While we attempt to recoup these upfront costs over the lives of their subscriptions, there can be no assurance that we will.  We employ business rules such as credit requirements and contractual commitments, and we strive to provide outstanding customer service, to increase the likelihood of customers keeping their DISH service over longer periods of time.  Our subscriber acquisition costs may vary significantly from period to period.

 

Advertising.  We use print, radio, television and Internet media, on a local and national basis to motivate potential subscribers to call DISH, visit our website or contact independent third party retailers.

 

Retailer Incentives.  We pay retailers an upfront incentive for each new subscriber they bring to DISH that results in the activation of qualified programming and generally pay retailers small monthly incentives for up to 60 months; provided, among other things, the customer continuously subscribes to qualified programming.

 

Equipment.  We incur significant upfront costs to provide our new subscribers with in-home equipment, including advanced HD and DVR receivers, which most of our new subscribers lease from us.  While we seek to recoup these upfront equipment costs mostly through monthly fees, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in achieving that objective.  In addition, upon deactivation of a subscriber we may refurbish and redeploy their equipment which lowers future upfront costs.  However, our ability to capitalize on these cost savings may be limited as technological advances and consumer demand for new features may render the returned equipment obsolete.

 

Installation.  We incur significant upfront costs to install satellite dishes and receivers in the homes of our new customers.

 

New Customer Promotions.  We often offer programming at no additional charge and/or promotional pricing during introductory periods for new subscribers.  While such promotional activities have an economic cost and reduce our subscriber-related revenue, they are not included in our definitions of subscriber acquisition costs or the SAC metric.

 

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Customer Retention

 

We incur significant costs to retain our existing customers, mostly by upgrading their equipment to HD and DVR receivers.  As with our subscriber acquisition costs, our retention upgrade spending includes the cost of equipment and installation.  In certain circumstances, we also offer programming at no additional charge and/or promotional pricing for limited periods for existing customers in exchange for a contractual commitment.  A component of our retention efforts includes the installation of equipment for customers who move.  Our subscriber retention costs may vary significantly from period to period.

 

Customer Service

 

Customer Service Centers.  We use both internally-operated and outsourced customer service centers to handle calls from prospective and existing customers.  We strive to answer customer calls promptly and to resolve issues effectively on the first call.  We intend to better use the Internet and other applications to provide our customers with more self-service capabilities over time.

 

Installation and Other In-Home Service Operations.  High-quality installations, upgrades, and in-home repairs are critical to providing good customer service.  Such in-home service is performed by both DISH employees and a network of independent contractors and includes, among other things, priority technical support, replacement equipment, cabling and power surge repairs for a monthly fee.

 

Subscriber Management.  We presently use, and depend on, CSG Systems International, Inc.’s (“CSG”) software system for the majority of DISH subscriber billing and related functions.  During 2011, we implemented new interactive voice response and in-home appointment scheduling systems.  Also during 2011, we began developing and testing a new CSG billing system as well as new sales and customer care systems that are likely to be implemented in 2012.

 

New Business Opportunities

 

From time to time we evaluate opportunities for strategic investments or acquisitions that may complement our current services and products, enhance our technical capabilities, improve or sustain our competitive position, or otherwise offer growth opportunities.  We may make investments in or partner with others to expand our business into mobile and portable video, data and voice services.

 

We are currently promoting a suite of integrated products designed to maximize the convenience and ease of watching TV anytime and anywhere, which we refer to as TV Everywhere which utilizes, among other things, online access and Slingbox “placeshifting” technology.  There can be no assurance that these integrated products will positively affect our results of operations or our gross new subscriber activations.

 

Blockbuster

 

On April 26, 2011, we completed the Blockbuster Acquisition.  We acquired Blockbuster operations in the United States and in certain foreign countries.  Blockbuster primarily offers movies and video games for sale and rental through multiple distribution channels such as retail stores, by-mail, digital devices, the blockbuster.com website and the BLOCKBUSTER On Demand service.  The Blockbuster Acquisition complements our core business of delivering high-quality video entertainment to consumers.  We are promoting our new Blockbuster offerings including Blockbuster@Home which provides movies, games and TV shows through Internet streaming, mail and in-store exchanges and online.  This offering is only available to DISH subscribers.

 

Spectrum Investments

 

In 2008, we paid $712 million to acquire certain 700 MHz wireless licenses, which were granted to us by the FCC in February 2009.  Part or all of these licenses may be terminated if the associated FCC build-out requirements are not satisfied.

 

During the first half of 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America for approximately $1.4 billion upon DBSD North America’s emergence from bankruptcy, which

 

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included capital stock and convertible securities of, and certain claims related to, DBSD North America.  In addition, in June 2011, we entered into the TerreStar Transaction for a purchase price of $1.375 billion. We have paid all but $30 million of the purchase price for the TerreStar Transaction, which will be paid upon closing of the TerreStar Transaction, or upon certain other conditions being met under the asset purchase agreement.  Additionally, during the fourth quarter 2011, we and Sprint entered into the Sprint Settlement Agreement pursuant to which all disputed issues relating to our acquisition of DBSD North America and the TerreStar Transaction were resolved between us and Sprint, including, but not limited to, issues relating to costs allegedly incurred by Sprint to relocate users from the spectrum now licensed to DBSD North America and TerreStar.  Pursuant to the Sprint Settlement Agreement, we made a net payment of approximately $114 million to Sprint.  Our ultimate acquisition of 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America and consummation of the TerreStar Transaction are subject to certain conditions, including approval by the FCC.

 

Under our agreements to acquire DBSD North America and purchase TerreStar’s assets, we paid substantially all of the purchase price for both transactions prior to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals (the FCC with respect to DBSD North America, and the FCC and the Canadian federal Department of Industry (“Industry Canada”) with respect to TerreStar).  On February 7, 2012, Industry Canada approved the transfer of the Canadian spectrum licenses held by TerreStar to us.  If the remaining required approvals are not obtained, subject to certain exceptions, we have the right to require and direct the sale of some or all of the assets of the relevant company to a third party and we would be entitled to the proceeds from such a sale.  These proceeds could, however, be substantially less than amounts we have paid in the respective transactions.

 

In addition, our consolidated FCC applications for approval of the license transfers from DBSD North America and TerreStar were accompanied by requests for waiver of the integrated service requirement, the spare satellite requirement and various technical provisions.  Waiver of the integrated service requirement would allow DISH to offer single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who do not desire satellite functionality.  The spectrum licenses currently held by DBSD North America and TerreStar do not include a waiver of this integrated service requirement.  Our integrated service requirement waiver request has been opposed by certain parties, and there can be no assurance that the FCC will approve it.  If our FCC applications and waiver requests are not granted by the FCC, or are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, it could cause the value of these assets to be impaired, potentially requiring us to take significant write-downs on these assets.  We assess potential impairments to these assets annually, or more often if indicators of impairment arise, to determine whether an impairment condition may exist.  We use a probability weighted analysis considering estimated future cash flows discounted at a rate commensurate with the risk involved and market based data to assess potential impairments.

 

To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, there can be no assurance that we will be able to develop and implement a business model that will realize a return on these spectrum investments or that we will be able to profitably deploy the assets represented by these spectrum investments.  We will likely be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.  Because we have not received approval from the FCC, we do not yet know the full costs (including any build-out requirements) associated with complying with regulations applicable to our acquisition of DBSD North America or the TerreStar Transaction.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly, which may affect the carrying value of our investments and our future financial condition or results of operations.

 

Transactions with EchoStar

 

On January 1, 2008, we completed the distribution of our technology and set-top box business and certain infrastructure assets (the “Spin-off”) into a separate publicly-traded company, EchoStar.  DISH Network and EchoStar operate as separate publicly-traded companies, and neither entity has any ownership interest in the other.  However, a substantial majority of the voting power of the shares of both DISH Network and EchoStar is owned beneficially by Charles W. Ergen, our Chairman, or by certain trusts established by Mr. Ergen for the benefit of his family.

 

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SATELLITES

 

Most of our programming is currently delivered using DBS satellites.  We continue to explore opportunities to expand our available satellite capacity through the use of other available spectrum.  Increasing our available spectrum is particularly important as more bandwidth intensive HD programming is produced and to address new video and data applications consumers may desire in the future.  We currently utilize satellites in geostationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the equator detailed in the table below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Degree

 

Useful

 

 

 

 

 

Launch

 

Orbital

 

Life

 

Lease Term

 

Satellites

 

Date

 

Location

 

(Years)

 

(Years)

 

Owned:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EchoStar I (1)

 

December 1995

 

77

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar VII

 

February 2002

 

119

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar X

 

February 2006

 

110

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar XI

 

July 2008

 

110

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar XIV

 

March 2010

 

119

 

15

 

 

 

EchoStar XV

 

July 2010

 

61.5

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leased from EchoStar:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EchoStar VI (1)

 

July 2000

 

77

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar VIII (1)(2)

 

August 2002

 

77

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar IX (1)(2)(3)

 

August 2003

 

121

 

12

 

 

 

EchoStar XII (1)

 

July 2003

 

61.5

 

10

 

 

 

Nimiq 5 (1)(2)

 

September 2009

 

72.7

 

10

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leased from Other Third Party:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anik F3

 

April 2007

 

118.7

 

15

 

15

 

Ciel II

 

December 2008

 

129

 

10

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Construction:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leased from EchoStar:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EchoStar XVI

 

2012

 

61.5

 

10

 

10

 

 


(1)          See Note 20 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion of our Related Party Transactions with EchoStar.

(2)          We lease a portion of the capacity on these satellites.

(3)          Leased on a month to month basis.

 

Recent Developments

 

Recent developments with respect to certain of our satellites are discussed below.

 

QuetzSat-1.  During 2008, we entered into a transponder service agreement with EchoStar expiring in November 2021, which will be accounted for as an operating lease.  We will lease 24 DBS transponders on QuetzSat-1 when the satellite is placed into commercial operation at the 77 degree orbital location.  QuetzSat-1 was launched on September 29, 2011 and was placed into service during the fourth quarter 2011 at the 67.1 degree orbital location while we and EchoStar explore alternative uses for the QuetzSat-1 satellite.  In the interim, EchoStar is providing us with alternate capacity at the 77 degree orbital location.  See Note 20 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

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Satellites Under Construction

 

We have agreed to lease capacity on one satellite from EchoStar that is currently under construction.

 

·                  EchoStar XVI.  During December 2009, we entered into a ten-year transponder service agreement with EchoStar to lease all of the capacity on EchoStar XVI, a DBS satellite.  EchoStar XVI will replace the satellites currently at the 61.5 degree orbital location and will allow us to offer other value-added services.  We will lease certain satellite capacity from EchoStar on EchoStar XVI after its service commencement date and this lease generally terminates upon the earlier of:  (i) the end of life or replacement of the satellite; (ii) the date the satellite fails; (iii) the date the transponder(s) on which service is being provided under the agreement fails; or (iv) ten years following the actual service commencement date.  Upon expiration of the initial term, we have the option to renew on a year-to-year basis through the end of life of the satellite.  There can be no assurance that any options to renew this agreement will be exercised.  EchoStar XVI is expected to be launched during the second half of 2012.

 

Satellite Anomalies

 

Operation of our pay-TV service requires that we have adequate satellite transmission capacity for the programming we offer.  Moreover, current competitive conditions require that we continue to expand our offering of new programming, particularly by expanding local HD coverage and offering more HD national channels.  While we generally have had in-orbit satellite capacity sufficient to transmit our existing channels and some backup capacity to recover the transmission of certain critical programming, our backup capacity is limited.

 

In the event of a failure or loss of any of our satellites, we may need to acquire or lease additional satellite capacity or relocate one of our other satellites and use it as a replacement for the failed or lost satellite.  Such a failure could result in a prolonged loss of critical programming or a significant delay in our plans to expand programming as necessary to remain competitive and thus may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Prior to 2011, certain satellites in our fleet experienced anomalies, some of which have had a significant adverse impact on their remaining useful life and/or commercial operation.  There can be no assurance that future anomalies will not further impact the remaining useful life and/or commercial operation of any of these satellites.  See “Long-Lived Satellite Assets” below for further discussion of evaluation of impairment and Note 7 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  There can be no assurance that we can recover critical transmission capacity in the event one or more of our in-orbit satellites were to fail.  We do not anticipate carrying insurance for any of the in-orbit satellites that we use, and we will bear the risk associated with any in-orbit satellite failures.  Recent developments with respect to certain of our satellites are discussed below.

 

Owned Satellites

 

EchoStar XIV.  EchoStar XIV was designed to meet a minimum 15-year useful life.  During September 2011, we determined that EchoStar XIV experienced a solar array anomaly that reduced the total power available for use by the spacecraft.  While this anomaly did not reduce the estimated useful life of the satellite to less than 15 years or impact commercial operation of the satellite, there can be no assurance that future anomalies will not reduce its useful life or impact its commercial operation.

 

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Leased Satellites

 

EchoStar VIII.  EchoStar VIII was designed to operate 32 DBS transponders with the ability to provide service to the entire continental United States (“CONUS”) at approximately 120 watts per channel, switchable to 16 DBS transponders operating at approximately 240 watts per channel.  EchoStar VIII was also designed with spot-beam technology.  This satellite has experienced several anomalies prior to 2011, and during January 2011 the satellite experienced an anomaly that temporarily disrupted electrical power to some components causing an interruption of broadcast service.  In addition, it has now been determined one of the two on-board computers used to control the satellite failed in connection with the January 2011 anomaly.  None of these anomalies has impacted the commercial operation or estimated useful life of the satellite.  However, if the remaining on-board computer fails, the commercial operation of the satellite would likely be substantially impacted and may result in an impairment of the satellite.  There can also be no assurance that this anomaly or any future anomalies will not reduce its useful life or impact its commercial operation.

 

Long-Lived Satellite Assets

 

We evaluate our satellite fleet for impairment as one asset group and test for recoverability whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that its carrying amount may not be recoverable.  While certain of the anomalies discussed above, and previously disclosed, may be considered to represent a significant adverse change in the physical condition of an individual satellite, based on the redundancy designed within each satellite and considering the asset grouping, these anomalies are not considered to be significant events that would require evaluation for impairment recognition.  Unless and until a specific satellite is abandoned or otherwise determined to have no service potential, the net carrying amount related to the satellite would not be written off.

 

GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS

 

DBS operators are subject to significant government regulation, primarily by the FCC and, to a certain extent, by Congress, other federal agencies and foreign, state and local authorities.  Depending upon the circumstances, noncompliance with legislation or regulations promulgated by these entities could result in the suspension or revocation of our licenses or registrations, the termination or loss of contracts or the imposition of contractual damages, civil fines or criminal penalties, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Furthermore, the adoption or modification of laws or regulations relating to video programming, satellite services, the Internet or other areas of our business could limit or otherwise adversely affect the manner in which we currently conduct our business.  If we become subject to new regulations or legislation or new interpretations of existing regulations or legislation that govern Internet network neutrality, we may be required to incur additional expenses or alter our business model.  The manner in which legislation governing Internet network neutrality may be interpreted and enforced cannot be precisely determined, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The following summary of regulatory developments and legislation in the United States is not intended to describe all present and proposed government regulation and legislation affecting the satellite and video programming distribution industries.  Government regulations that are currently the subject of judicial or administrative proceedings, legislative hearings or administrative proposals could change our industry to varying degrees.  We cannot predict either the outcome of these proceedings or any potential impact they might have on the industry or on our operations.

 

FCC Regulation under the Communications Act

 

FCC Jurisdiction over our Satellite Operations.  The Communications Act gives the FCC broad authority to regulate the operations of satellite companies.  Specifically, the Communications Act gives the FCC regulatory jurisdiction over the following areas relating to communications satellite operations:

 

·                  the assignment of satellite radio frequencies and orbital locations, the licensing of satellites and earth stations, the granting of related authorizations, and evaluation of the fitness of a company to be a licensee;

·                  approval for the relocation of satellites to different orbital locations or the replacement of an existing satellite with a new satellite;

 

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·                  ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions of such assignments, licenses, authorizations and approvals; including required timetables for construction and operation of satellites;

·                  avoiding interference with other radio frequency emitters; and

·                  ensuring compliance with other applicable provisions of the Communications Act and FCC rules and regulations.

 

To obtain FCC satellite licenses and authorizations, satellite operators must satisfy strict legal, technical and financial qualification requirements.  Once issued, these licenses and authorizations are subject to a number of conditions including, among other things, satisfaction of ongoing due diligence obligations, construction milestones, and various reporting requirements.  Necessary federal approval of these applications may not be granted, may not be granted in a timely manner, or may be granted subject to conditions which may be cumbersome.

 

Overview of our Satellites, Authorizations and Contractual Rights for Satellite Capacity.  Our satellites are located in orbital positions, or slots, that are designated by their western longitude.  An orbital position describes both a physical location and an assignment of spectrum in the applicable frequency band.  Each DBS orbital position has 500 MHz of available Ku-band spectrum that is divided into 32 frequency channels.  Through digital compression technology, we can currently transmit between nine and 13 standard definition digital video channels per DBS frequency channel.  Several of our satellites also include spot-beam technology that enables us to increase the number of markets where we provide local channels, but reduces the number of video channels that could otherwise be offered across the entire United States.

 

The FCC has licensed us to operate a total of 82 DBS frequency channels at the following orbital locations:

 

·                  21 DBS frequency channels at the 119 degree orbital location, capable of providing service to CONUS;

·                  29 DBS frequency channels at the 110 degree orbital location, capable of providing service to CONUS; and

·                  32 DBS frequency channels at the 148 degree orbital location, capable of providing service to the Western United States.

 

We currently do not have any satellites positioned at the 148 degree orbital location as a result of the retirement of EchoStar V.  While we have requested approval from the FCC for the future use of this orbital location, there can be no assurance that the FCC will determine that our proposed future use of this orbital location complies fully with all licensing requirements.  If we do not use this orbital location, we could lose the associated FCC license.

 

In addition, we currently lease or have entered into agreements to lease capacity on satellites using the following spectrum at the following orbital locations:

 

·                  500 MHz of Ku-band FSS spectrum that is divided into 32 frequency channels at the 118.7 degree orbital location, which is a Canadian FSS slot that is capable of providing service to the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii;

·                  32 DBS frequency channels at the 129 degree orbital location, which is a Canadian DBS slot that is capable of providing service to most of the United States;

·                  32 DBS frequency channels at the 61.5 degree orbital location, capable of providing service to most of the United States;

·                  24 DBS frequency channels at the 77 degree orbital location, which is a Mexican DBS slot that is capable of providing service to most of the United States and Mexico; and

·                  32 DBS frequency channels at the 72.7 degree orbital location, which is a Canadian DBS slot that is capable of providing service to the United States.

 

We also have month-to-month FSS capacity available from EchoStar on a satellite located at the 121 degree orbital location.

 

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Mobile-Satellite Service (“MSS”) and Ancillary Terrestrial Component (“ATC”).  In 2011, we entered into transactions to acquire DBSD North America and purchase TerreStar’s assets, the two FCC 2GHz MSS licensees.  Both DBSD North America and TerreStar have authority to offer an ATC service with their MSS services.  We currently have consolidated applications pending with the FCC to approve the license transfers accompanied by requests for waiver of the integrated service requirement, the spare satellite requirement and various technical provisions.  If the applications are approved, we will become subject to FCC regulation regarding wireless operations of these licenses and may be subject to certain conditions stemming from the FCC’s grant of the application.  For more information, see “New Business Opportunities — Spectrum Investments” of this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

700 MHz Spectrum.  In 2008, we paid $712 million to acquire certain 700 MHz wireless licenses, which were granted to us by the FCC in February 2009.  To commercialize these licenses and satisfy the associated FCC build-out requirements, we will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly.  Part or all of these licenses may be terminated if the associated FCC build-out requirements are not satisfied.

 

Multichannel Video Distribution & Data Service (“MVDDS”).  In 2010, we purchased all of South.com L.L.C., which is an entity that holds MVDDS licenses in 37 markets in the United States.  We are subject to certain FCC build-out requirements for these licenses.  Part or all of our MVDDS licenses may be terminated if those FCC build-out requirements are not satisfied.

 

Duration of our DBS Satellite Licenses.  Generally speaking, all of our satellite licenses are subject to expiration unless renewed by the FCC.  The term of each of our DBS licenses is ten years.  Our licenses are currently set to expire at various times.  In addition, we currently operate at the 118.7 degree orbital location under a special temporary authorization.  A special temporary authorization is granted for a period of only 180 days or less, subject again to possible renewal by the FCC.  Generally, our FCC licenses and special temporary authorization have been renewed by the FCC on a routine basis, but there can be no assurance that the FCC will continue to do so.

 

Opposition and Other Risks to our Licenses.  Several third parties have opposed, and we expect them to continue to oppose, some of our FCC satellite authorizations and pending and future requests to the FCC for extensions, modifications, waivers and approvals of our licenses.  In addition, we may not have fully complied with all of the FCC reporting, filing and other requirements in connection with our satellite authorizations.  Consequently, it is possible the FCC could revoke, terminate, condition or decline to extend or renew certain of our authorizations or licenses.

 

4.5 Degree Spacing Tweener Satellites.  The FCC has proposed to allow so-called “tweener” DBS operations — DBS satellites operating at orbital locations 4.5 degrees (half of the usual nine degrees) away from other DBS satellites.  The FCC granted authorizations to Spectrum Five and EchoStar for tweener satellites at the 86.5 and 114.5 degree orbital locations.  Even though these authorizations were subsequently cancelled because the FCC determined that the licensees did not meet certain milestone requirements, Spectrum Five and EchoStar have requested reconsideration of the FCC’s determinations for both of these licensees.  Tweener operations close to our licensed orbital locations (including Spectrum Five’s proposed use at the 114.5 degree orbital location) could cause harmful interference to our service and constrain our future operations.  The FCC has not completed its rulemaking on the operating and service rules for tweener satellites.

 

Interference from Other Services Sharing Satellite Spectrum.  The FCC has adopted rules that allow non-geostationary orbit fixed satellite services to operate on a co-primary basis in the same frequency band as DBS and FSS.  The FCC has also authorized the use of MVDDS in the DBS band.  MVDDS licenses were auctioned in 2004.  While we are not aware of any MVDDS systems having been commercially deployed, several systems are currently being tested and may soon be deployed.  Despite regulatory provisions intended to protect DBS and FSS operations from harmful interference, there can be no assurance that operations by other satellites or terrestrial communication services in the DBS and FSS bands will not interfere with our DBS and FSS operations and adversely affect our business.

 

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International Satellite Competition and Interference.  DirecTV has obtained FCC authority to provide service to the United States from a Canadian DBS orbital slot, and EchoStar has obtained authority to provide service to the United States from both a Mexican and a Canadian DBS orbital slot.  Further, we have also received authority to do the same from a Canadian DBS orbital slot at 129 degrees and a Canadian FSS orbital slot at 118.7 degrees.  The possibility that the FCC will allow service to the U.S. from additional foreign slots may permit additional competition against us from other satellite providers.  It may also provide a means by which to increase our available satellite capacity in the United States.  In addition, a number of administrations, such as Great Britain and the Netherlands, have requested to add orbital locations serving the U.S. close to our licensed slots.  Such operations could cause harmful interference to our satellites and constrain our future operations.

 

Rules Relating to Broadcast Services.  The FCC imposes different rules for “subscription” and “broadcast” services.  We believe that because we offer a subscription programming service, we are not subject to many of the regulatory obligations imposed upon broadcast licensees.  However, we cannot be certain whether the FCC will find in the future that we must comply with regulatory obligations as a broadcast licensee, and certain parties have requested that we be treated as a broadcaster.  If the FCC determines that we are a broadcast licensee, it could require us to comply with all regulatory obligations imposed upon broadcast licensees, which in certain respects are subject to more burdensome regulation than subscription television service providers.

 

Public Interest Requirements.  The FCC imposes certain public interest obligations on our DBS licenses.  These obligations require us to set aside four percent of our channel capacity exclusively for noncommercial programming for which we must charge programmers below-cost rates and for which we may not impose additional charges on subscribers.  The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (“STELA”) requires the FCC to decrease this set-aside to 3.5 percent for satellite carriers who provide retransmission of state public affairs networks in 15 states and are otherwise qualified.  The FCC, however, has not yet determined whether we qualify for this decrease in set-aside.  The obligation to provide noncommercial programming may displace programming for which we could earn commercial rates and could adversely affect our financial results.  We cannot be sure that, if the FCC were to review our methodology for processing public interest carriage requests, computing the channel capacity we must set aside or determining the rates that we charge public interest programmers, it would find them in compliance with the public interest requirements.

 

Separate Security, Plug and PlayCable companies are required by law to separate the security from the other functionality of their set-top boxes.  Set-top boxes used by DBS providers are not currently subject to such separate security requirement.  However, the FCC is considering a possible expansion of that requirement to DBS set-top boxes.  Also, the FCC has adopted the so-called “plug and play” standard for compatibility between digital television sets and cable systems.  That standard was developed through negotiations involving the cable and consumer electronics industries, but not the satellite television industry.  The FCC’s adoption of the standard was accompanied by certain rules regarding copy protection measures that are applicable to us.  While we have appealed the FCC’s decision regarding the copy protection measures to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”), there can be no assurance that the D.C. Circuit will set aside or remand that decision.  The FCC is also considering various proposals to establish two-way digital cable “plug and play” rules.  That proceeding also asks about means to incorporate all pay-TV providers into its “plug and play” rules.  The cable industry and consumer electronics companies have reached a “tru2way” commercial arrangement to resolve many of the outstanding issues in this docket.  We cannot predict whether the FCC will impose rules on our DBS operations that are based on cable system architectures or the private cable/consumer electronics tru2way commercial arrangement.  Complying with the separate security and other “plug and play” requirements would require potentially costly modifications to our set-top boxes and operations.  We cannot predict the timing or outcome of this FCC proceeding.

 

Retransmission Consent.  The Copyright Act generally gives satellite companies a statutory copyright license to retransmit local broadcast channels by satellite back into the market from which they originated, subject to obtaining the retransmission consent of local network stations that do not elect “must carry” status, as required by the Communications Act.  If we fail to reach retransmission consent agreements with such broadcasters, we cannot carry their signals.  This could have an adverse effect on our strategy to compete with cable and other satellite companies that provide local signals.  While we have been able to reach retransmission consent agreements with most of these local network stations, there remain stations with which we have not been able to reach an agreement. We cannot be sure that we will secure these agreements or that we will secure new agreements on acceptable terms (or at all) upon the expiration of our current retransmission consent agreements, some of which are short-term.  In

 

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recent years, national broadcasters have used their ownership of certain local broadcast stations to attempt to require us to carry additional cable programming in exchange for retransmission consent of their local broadcast stations.  These requirements may place constraints on available capacity on our satellites for other programming.  Furthermore, the rates we are charged for retransmitting local channels have been increasing.  We may be unable to pass these increased programming costs on to our customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.  The FCC is currently considering changes to its rules governing retransmission consent disputes that are designed to provide more guidance to the negotiating parties on good-faith negotiation requirements and to improve notice to consumers in advance of possible service disruptions.  We cannot predict the timing or outcome of this FCC proceeding.

 

Digital HD Carry-One, Carry-All Requirement.  To provide any full-power local broadcast signal in any market, we are required to retransmit all qualifying broadcast signals in that market (“carry-one, carry-all”).  The FCC has adopted digital carriage rules that require DBS providers to phase in carry-one, carry-all obligations with respect to the carriage of full-power broadcasters’ HD signals by February 2013 in markets in which DISH elects to provide local channels in HD.  In addition, STELA has imposed accelerated HD carriage requirements for noncommercial educational stations on DBS providers that do not have a certain contractual relationship with a certain number of such stations.  DISH Network has entered into an agreement with a number of PBS stations to comply with the requirements.  The carriage of additional HD signals on our pay-TV service could cause us to experience significant capacity constraints and prevent us from carrying additional popular national programs and/or carrying those national programs in HD.

 

In addition, there is a pending rulemaking before the FCC regarding whether to require DBS providers to carry all broadcast stations in a local market in both standard definition and HD if they carry any station in that market in both standard definition and HD.  If we were required to carry multiple versions of each broadcast station, we would have to dedicate more of our finite satellite capacity to each broadcast station.  We cannot predict the outcome or timing of that rulemaking process.

 

Distant Signals.  Pursuant to STELA, we have been able to obtain a waiver of a court injunction that previously prevented us from retransmitting certain distant network signals under a statutory copyright license.  Because of that waiver, we may once again provide distant network signals to eligible subscribers.  To qualify for that waiver, we are required to provide local service in all 210 local markets in the U.S. on an ongoing basis.  This condition poses a significant strain on our capacity.  Moreover, we may lose that waiver if we are found to have failed to provide local service in any of the 210 local markets.  If we lose the waiver, the injunction could be reinstated.  Furthermore, depending on the severity of the failure, we may also be subject to other sanctions, which may include, among other things, damages.  Pursuant to STELA, our compliance with certain conditions of the waiver is subject to periodic examination and review.

 

Dependence on Cable Act for Program Access.  We purchase a large percentage of our programming from cable-affiliated programmers.  The provisions of the Cable Act of 1992, as amended (“Cable Act”), prohibiting exclusive contracting practices with cable-affiliated programmers, were extended for another five-year period in September 2007.  Cable companies appealed the FCC’s decision, and while that decision was upheld by the D.C. Circuit in March 2010, that court indicated if the market continues to evolve, it is expected that the exclusivity prohibition may no longer be necessary.  Any change in the Cable Act and the FCC’s rules that currently limit the ability of cable-affiliated programmers to discriminate against competing businesses, such as ours, in the sale of programming could adversely affect our ability to acquire cable-affiliated programming at all or to acquire programming on a cost-effective basis.  As a result, we may be limited in our ability to obtain access on nondiscriminatory terms to programming from programmers that are affiliated with cable system operators.  In the case of certain types of programming affiliated with Comcast, Time-Warner Cable, and Liberty, the terms of access to the programming are subject to arbitration for a limited period of time if we and the programmer cannot reach agreement on terms, subject to FCC review.  We cannot be sure that this procedure will result in favorable terms for us or that the FCC conditions that establish this procedure will be allowed to expire on their own terms.

 

In addition, affiliates of certain cable providers have denied us access to sports programming they feed to their cable systems terrestrially, rather than by satellite.  The FCC held that new denials of such service are unfair if they have the purpose or effect of significantly hindering us from providing programming to consumers.  However, we cannot be sure that we can prevail in a complaint related to such programming and gain access to it.  Our continuing failure

 

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to access such programming could materially and adversely affect our ability to compete in regions serviced by these cable providers.

 

MDU Exclusivity.  The FCC has found that cable companies should not be permitted to have exclusive relationships with multiple dwelling units (e.g., apartment buildings).  In May 2009, the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s decision.  While the FCC requested comments in November 2007 on whether DBS and Private Cable Operators should be prohibited from having similar relationships with multiple dwelling units, it has yet to make a formal decision.  If the cable exclusivity ban were to be extended to DBS providers, our ability to serve these types of buildings and communities would be adversely affected.  We cannot predict the timing or outcome of the FCC’s consideration of this proposal.

 

Net Neutrality.  The FCC has recently imposed rules of nondiscrimination and transparency upon wireline broadband providers.  While this decision provides certain protection from discrimination by wireline broadband providers against our distribution of video content via the Internet, it may still permit wireline broadband providers to provide certain services over their wireline broadband network that are not subject to these requirements.  Although the FCC imposed similar transparency requirements on wireless broadband providers, it declined to impose a nondiscrimination rule.  Instead, wireless broadband Internet providers are prohibited from blocking websites and applications that compete with voice and video telephony services.  The FCC’s net neutrality rules have been challenged in Federal court and could be curtailed or overturned if those challenges are successful.  One party has asked the FCC to clarify and/or ease the limitations under which wireline broadband providers can provide services that are not subject to these requirements.  It is uncertain how these requirements, even if they are affirmed by the Federal court of appeals, may be interpreted and enforced by the FCC; therefore, we cannot predict the practical effect of these rules on our ability to distribute our video content via the Internet.

 

Comcast/NBC Universal Transaction.  Comcast and General Electric have joined their programming properties, including NBC, Bravo and many others, in a venture to be controlled by Comcast.  In January 2011, the transaction was approved by the FCC and the Department of Justice.  The FCC conditioned its approval on, among other things, Comcast complying with the terms of the FCC’s recent order on network neutrality (even if that order is vacated by judicial or legislative action) and Comcast licensing its affiliated content to us, other traditional pay-TV providers and certain providers of video services over the Internet on fair and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions, including, among others, price.  If Comcast does not license its affiliated content to us on fair and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions, we can seek arbitration and continue to carry such content while the arbitration is pending.  However, it is uncertain how these conditions may be interpreted and enforced by the FCC; therefore, we cannot predict the practical effect of these conditions.

 

Spectrum Investment FCC Authorization

 

During the first half of 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America for approximately $1.4 billion upon DBSD North America’s emergence from bankruptcy, which included capital stock and convertible securities of, and certain claims related to, DBSD North America.  In addition, in June 2011, we entered into the TerreStar Transaction for a purchase price of $1.375 billion. We have paid all but $30 million of the purchase price for the TerreStar Transaction, which will be paid upon closing of the TerreStar Transaction, or upon certain other conditions being met under the asset purchase agreement.  Additionally, during the fourth quarter 2011, we and Sprint entered into the Sprint Settlement Agreement pursuant to which all disputed issues relating to our acquisition of DBSD North America and the TerreStar Transaction were resolved between us and Sprint, including, but not limited to, issues relating to costs allegedly incurred by Sprint to relocate users from the spectrum now licensed to DBSD North America and TerreStar.  Pursuant to the Sprint Settlement Agreement, we made a net payment of approximately $114 million to Sprint.  Our ultimate acquisition of 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America and consummation of the TerreStar Transaction are subject to certain conditions, including approval by the FCC.

 

Under our agreements to acquire DBSD North America and purchase TerreStar’s assets, we paid substantially all of the purchase price for both transactions prior to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals (the FCC with respect to DBSD North America, and the FCC and Industry Canada with respect to TerreStar).  On February 7, 2012, Industry Canada approved the transfer of the Canadian spectrum licenses held by TerreStar to us.  If the remaining required approvals are not obtained, subject to certain exceptions, we have the right to require and direct the sale of some or

 

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all of the assets of the relevant company to a third party and we would be entitled to the proceeds from such a sale.  These proceeds could, however, be substantially less than amounts we have paid in the respective transactions.

 

In addition, our consolidated FCC applications for approval of the license transfers from DBSD North America and TerreStar were accompanied by requests for waiver of the integrated service requirement, the spare satellite requirement and various technical provisions.  Waiver of the integrated service requirement would allow DISH to offer single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who do not desire satellite functionality.  The spectrum licenses currently held by DBSD North America and TerreStar do not include a waiver of this integrated service requirement.  Our integrated service requirement waiver request has been opposed by certain parties, and there can be no assurance that the FCC will approve it.  If our FCC applications and waiver requests are not granted by the FCC, or are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, it could cause the value of these assets to be impaired, potentially requiring us to take significant write-downs on these assets.  We assess potential impairments to these assets annually, or more often if indicators of impairment arise, to determine whether an impairment condition may exist.  We use a probability weighted analysis considering estimated future cash flows discounted at a rate commensurate with the risk involved and market based data to assess potential impairments.

 

To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, there can be no assurance that we will be able to develop and implement a business model that will realize a return on these spectrum investments or that we will be able to profitably deploy the assets represented by these spectrum investments.  We will likely be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.  Because we have not received approval from the FCC, we do not yet know the full costs (including any build-out requirements) associated with complying with regulations applicable to our acquisition of DBSD North America or the TerreStar Transaction.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly, which may affect the carrying value of our investments and our future financial condition or results of operations.

 

The International Telecommunication Union

 

Our pay-TV service also must conform to the ITU broadcasting satellite service plan for Region 2 (which includes the United States).  If any of our operations are not consistent with this plan, the ITU will only provide authorization on a non-interference basis pending successful modification of the plan or the agreement of all affected administrations to the non-conforming operations.  Certain of our DBS satellites are not presently entitled to any interference protection from other satellites that are in conformance with the plan.  Accordingly, unless and until the ITU modifies its broadcasting satellite service plan to include the technical parameters of DBS applicants’ non-conforming operations, our non-conforming satellites, along with those of other DBS operators, must not cause harmful electrical interference with other assignments that are in conformance with the plan.

 

Export Control Regulation

 

The delivery of satellites and related technical information for purposes of launch by foreign launch service providers is subject to strict export control and prior approval requirements.  We are required to obtain import and export licenses from the United States government to receive and deliver certain components of direct-to-home satellite television systems.  In addition, the delivery of satellites and the supply of certain related ground control equipment, technical services and data, and satellite communication/control services to destinations outside the United States are subject to export control and prior approval requirements from the United States government (including prohibitions on the sharing of certain satellite-related goods and services with China).

 

PATENTS AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

 

Many entities, including some of our competitors, have or may in the future obtain patents and other intellectual property rights that cover or affect products or services that we offer.  In general, if a court determines that one or more of our products or services infringe intellectual property rights held by others, we may be required to cease developing or marketing those products or services, to obtain licenses from the holders of the intellectual property rights at a material cost, or to redesign those products or services in such a way as to avoid infringing any patent claims.  If those intellectual property rights are held by a competitor, we may be unable to obtain the intellectual property rights at any price, which could adversely affect our competitive position.

 

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We may not be aware of all intellectual property rights that our products or services may potentially infringe.  In addition, patent applications in the United States are confidential until the Patent and Trademark Office either publishes the application or issues a patent (whichever arises first) and, accordingly, our products may infringe claims contained in pending patent applications of which we are not aware.  Further, the process of determining definitively whether a claim of infringement is valid often involves expensive and protracted litigation, even if we are ultimately successful on the merits.

 

We cannot estimate the extent to which we may be required in the future to obtain intellectual property licenses or the availability and cost of any such licenses.  Those costs, and their impact on our results of operations, could be material.  Damages in patent infringement cases can be substantial, and in certain circumstances can be trebled.  To the extent that we are required to pay unanticipated royalties to third parties, these increased costs of doing business could negatively affect our liquidity and operating results.  We are currently defending multiple patent infringement actions.  We cannot be certain the courts will conclude these companies do not own the rights they claim, that our products do not infringe on these rights and/or that these rights are not valid.  Further, we cannot be certain that we would be able to obtain licenses from these persons on commercially reasonable terms or, if we were unable to obtain such licenses, that we would be able to redesign our products to avoid infringement.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

 

We are subject to the requirements of federal, state, local and foreign environmental and occupational safety and health laws and regulations.  These include laws regulating air emissions, water discharge and waste management.  We attempt to maintain compliance with all such requirements.  We do not expect capital or other expenditures for environmental compliance to be material in 2012 or 2013.  Environmental requirements are complex, change frequently and have become more stringent over time.  Accordingly, we cannot provide assurance that these requirements will not change or become more stringent in the future in a manner that could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

SEGMENT REPORTING DATA AND GEOGRAPHIC AREA DATA

 

For segment reporting data and principal geographic area data for 2011, 2010 and 2009, see Note 17 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

EMPLOYEES

 

We had approximately 34,000 employees at December 31, 2011, most of whom are located in the United States.  We generally consider relations with our employees to be good.

 

Approximately 60 employees in three of our field offices have voted to have a union represent them in contract negotiations.  While we are not currently a party to any collective bargaining agreements, we are currently negotiating collective bargaining agreements at these offices.

 

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

 

We are subject to the informational requirements of the Exchange Act and accordingly file our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and other information with the SEC.  The public may read and copy any materials filed with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20549.  Please call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330 for further information on the operation of the Public Reference Room.  As an electronic filer, our public filings are also maintained on the SEC’s Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.  The address of that website is http://www.sec.gov.

 

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WEBSITE ACCESS

 

Our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act also may be accessed free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we have electronically filed such material with, or furnished it to, the SEC.  The address of that website is http://www.dishnetwork.com.

 

We have adopted a written code of ethics that applies to all of our directors, officers and employees, including our principal executive officer and senior financial officers, in accordance with Section 406 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules of the SEC promulgated thereunder.  Our code of ethics is available on our corporate website at http://www.dishnetwork.com.  In the event that we make changes in, or provide waivers of, the provisions of this code of ethics that the SEC requires us to disclose, we intend to disclose these events on our website.

 

EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

 

(furnished in accordance with Item 401 (b) of Regulation S-K, pursuant to General Instruction G(3) of Form 10-K)

 

The following table and information below sets forth the name, age and position with DISH Network of each of our executive officers, the period during which each executive officer has served as such, and each executive officer’s business experience during the past five years:

 

Name

 

Age

 

Position

 

 

 

 

 

Charles W. Ergen

 

58

 

Chairman

Joseph P. Clayton

 

62

 

President and Chief Executive Officer and Director

W. Erik Carlson

 

42

 

Executive Vice President, DNS and Service Operations

Thomas A. Cullen

 

52

 

Executive Vice President, Corporate Development

James DeFranco

 

59

 

Executive Vice President and Director

R. Stanton Dodge

 

44

 

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Bernard L. Han

 

47

 

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Michael Kelly

 

50

 

President, Blockbuster L.L.C.

Roger J. Lynch

 

49

 

Executive Vice President, Advanced Technologies

Robert E. Olson

 

52

 

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Stephen W. Wood

 

53

 

Executive Vice President, Human Resources

 

Charles W. Ergen.  Mr. Ergen is our executive Chairman and has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of DISH Network since its formation and, during the past five years, has held executive officer and director positions with DISH Network and its subsidiaries.  Mr. Ergen also serves as executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EchoStar.  Mr. Ergen co-founded DISH Network with his spouse, Cantey Ergen, and James DeFranco, in 1980.

 

Joseph P. Clayton.  Mr. Clayton has served as our President and Chief Executive Officer and has been a member of our Board of Directors since June 2011.  Mr. Clayton served as Chairman of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (Sirius) from November 2004 through July 2008 and served as Chief Executive Officer of Sirius from November 2001 through November 2004.  Prior to joining Sirius, Mr. Clayton served as President of Global Crossing North America, as President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Corporation and as Executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales - Americas and Asia, of Thomson S.A.  Mr. Clayton is also currently serving on the Board of Directors of Transcend Services, Inc.  Mr. Clayton previously served on the Board of Directors of EchoStar from October 2008 until June 2011.

 

W. Erik Carlson.  Mr. Carlson has served as our Executive Vice President, DNS and Service Operations since February 2008 and is responsible for overseeing our residential and commercial installations, customer billing and equipment retrieval and refurbishment operations.  Mr. Carlson previously was Senior Vice President of Retail Services, a position he held since mid-2006.  He joined DISH Network in 1995 and has held operating roles of increasing responsibility over the years.

 

Thomas A. Cullen.  Mr. Cullen has served as our Executive Vice President, Corporate Development since July 2011.  Mr. Cullen served as our Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Programming from April 2009 until July

 

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2011 and as our Executive Vice President, Corporate Development from December 2006 until April 2009.  Before joining DISH Network, Mr. Cullen served as President of TensorComm, a venture-backed wireless technology company.  From August 2003 to April 2005, Mr. Cullen was with Charter Communications Inc., serving as Senior Vice President, Advanced Services and Business Development from August 2003 until he was promoted to Executive Vice President in August 2004.

 

James DeFrancoMr. DeFranco is one of our Executive Vice Presidents and has been one of our vice presidents and a member of the Board of Directors since our formation.  During the past five years he has held various executive officer and director positions with our subsidiaries.  Mr. DeFranco co-founded DISH Network with Charles W. Ergen and Cantey Ergen, in 1980.

 

R. Stanton Dodge.  Mr. Dodge has served as our Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since June 2007 and is responsible for all legal and government affairs for DISH Network and its subsidiaries.  Mr. Dodge has served on the Board of Directors of EchoStar since March 2009.  Mr. Dodge also served as EchoStar’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary from October 2007 to November 2011 pursuant to a management services agreement between DISH Network and EchoStar.  Since joining DISH Network in November 1996, he has held various positions of increasing responsibility in DISH Network’s legal department.

 

Bernard L. Han.  Mr. Han has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since April 2009 and is in charge of all operations and information technology functions for DISH Network.  Mr. Han served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of DISH Network from September 2006 until April 2009.  Mr. Han also served as EchoStar’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from January 2008 to June 2010 pursuant to a management services agreement between DISH Network and EchoStar.  From October 2002 to May 2005, Mr. Han served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Northwest Airlines, Inc.

 

Michael Kelly.  Mr. Kelly has served as the President of Blockbuster L.L.C since May 2011.  Mr. Kelly served as our Executive Vice President, Direct, Commercial and Advertising Sales from December 2005 until May 2011 and as Executive Vice President of DISH Network Service L.L.C. and Customer Service from February 2004 until December 2005.

 

Roger J. Lynch.  Mr. Lynch has served as our Executive Vice President, Advanced Technologies since November 2009.  Mr. Lynch also serves as EchoStar’s Executive Vice President, Advanced Technologies.  Prior to joining DISH Network, Mr. Lynch served as Chairman and CEO of Video Networks International, Ltd., an IPTV technology company in the United Kingdom from 2002 until 2009.

 

Robert E. Olson.  Mr. Olson has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since April 2009.  Mr. Olson was the Chief Financial Officer of Trane Commercial Systems, the largest operating division of American Standard, from April 2006 to August 2008.  From April 2003 to January 2006, Mr. Olson served as the Chief Financial Officer of AT&T’s Consumer Services division and later its Business Services division.

 

Stephen W. Wood.  Mr. Wood has served as our Executive Vice President, Human Resources since May 2006 and is responsible for all human resource functions for DISH Network and its subsidiaries.  Prior to joining DISH Network, Mr. Wood served as an Executive Vice President for Gate Gourmet International from 2004 to 2006.

 

There are no arrangements or understandings between any executive officer and any other person pursuant to which any executive officer was selected as such.  Pursuant to the Bylaws of DISH Network, executive officers serve at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

 

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Item 1A.  RISK FACTORS

 

The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing us.  If any of the following events occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Competition and Economic Risks Affecting our Business

 

We face intense and increasing competition from satellite television providers, cable companies and telecommunications companies, especially as the pay-TV industry matures, which may require us to increase subscriber acquisition and retention spending or accept lower subscriber activations and higher subscriber churn.

 

Our business is focused on providing pay-TV services and we have traditionally competed against satellite television providers and cable companies, some of whom have greater financial, marketing and other resources than we do.  Many of these competitors offer video services bundled with broadband, telephony services, HD offerings, interactive services and video on demand services that consumers may find attractive.  Moreover, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances among cable television providers, telecommunications companies and others may result in, among other things, greater financial leverage and increase the availability of offerings from providers capable of bundling television, broadband and telephone services in competition with our services.  We and our competitors increasingly must seek to attract a greater proportion of new subscribers from each other’s existing subscriber bases rather than from first-time purchasers of pay-TV services.  In addition, because other pay-TV providers may be seeking to attract a greater proportion of their new subscribers from our existing subscriber base we may be required to increase retention spending.

 

Competition has intensified in recent quarters as the pay-TV industry matures and the growth of fiber-based pay-TV services offered by telecommunications companies such as Verizon and AT&T continues.  These fiber-based pay-TV services have significantly greater capacity, enabling the telecommunications companies to offer substantial HD programming content as well as bundled services.  This increasingly competitive environment may require us to increase subscriber acquisition and retention spending or accept lower subscriber activations and higher subscriber churn.

 

Competition from digital media companies that provide or facilitate the delivery of video content via the Internet may reduce our gross new subscriber activations and may cause our subscribers to purchase less services from us or to cancel our services altogether, resulting in less revenue to us.

 

Our business is focused on pay-TV services, and we face competition from providers of digital media, including companies that offer online services distributing movies, television shows and other video programming.  Moreover, new technologies have been, and will likely continue to be, developed that further increase the number of competitors we face with respect to video services.  For example, online platforms that provide for the distribution and viewing of video programming compete with our pay-TV services.  These online platforms may cause our subscribers to disconnect our services.  In addition, even if our subscribers do not disconnect our services, they may purchase a certain portion of the services that they would have historically purchased from us through these online platforms, such as pay per view movies, resulting in less revenue to us.  Some of these companies have greater financial, marketing and other resources than we do.  In particular, programming offered over the Internet has become more prevalent as the speed and quality of broadband and wireless networks have improved.  In addition, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time accessing video content via the Internet on their mobile devices.  These technological advancements and changes in consumer behavior with regard to the means by which they obtain video content could reduce our gross new subscriber activations and could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition or otherwise disrupt our business.

 

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Economic weakness, including higher unemployment and reduced consumer spending, may adversely affect our ability to grow or maintain our business.

 

A substantial majority of our revenue comes from residential customers whose spending patterns may be affected by sustained economic weakness and uncertainty.  Economic weakness and uncertainty persisted during 2011.  Our ability to grow or maintain our business may be adversely affected by sustained economic weakness and uncertainty, including the effect of wavering consumer confidence, continued high unemployment and other factors that may adversely affect the pay-TV industry.  In particular, economic weakness and uncertainty could result in the following:

 

·                  Fewer gross new subscriber activations and increased churn.  We could face fewer gross new subscriber activations and increased churn due to, among other things:  (i) the sustained weak housing market in the United States combined with lower discretionary spending; (ii) increased price competition for our products and services; and (iii) the potential loss of retailers, who generate a significant portion of our new subscribers, because many of them are small businesses that are more susceptible to the negative effects of economic weakness.  In particular, subscriber churn may increase with respect to subscribers who purchase our lower tier programming packages and who may be more sensitive to sustained economic weakness, including, among others, our pay-in-advance subscribers.

 

·                  Lower average monthly revenue per subscriber (“ARPU”).  Our ARPU could be negatively impacted by aggressive introductory offers by our competitors and the growth of video content being delivered via the Internet.  Furthermore, due to lower levels of disposable income, our customers may downgrade to lower cost programming packages, elect not to purchase premium services or pay per view movies or may disconnect our services and choose to replace them with less expensive alternatives such as video content delivered via the Internet, including, among others, video on demand.

 

·                  Higher subscriber acquisition and retention costs.  Our profits may be adversely affected by increased subscriber acquisition and retention costs necessary to attract and retain subscribers during a period of economic weakness.

 

Our competitors may be able to leverage their relationships with programmers so that they are able to reduce their programming costs and offer exclusive content that will place them at a competitive advantage to us.

 

The cost of programming represents the largest percentage of our overall costs.  Certain of our competitors own directly or are affiliated with companies that own programming content that may enable them to obtain lower programming costs or offer exclusive programming that may be attractive to prospective subscribers.  Unlike our larger cable and satellite competitors, we have not made significant investments in programming providers.  For example, Comcast and General Electric have joined their programming properties, including NBC, Bravo and many others that are available in the majority of our programming packages, in a venture controlled by Comcast.  This transaction may affect us adversely by, among other things, making it more difficult for us to obtain access to their programming networks on nondiscriminatory and fair terms, or at all.  The transaction was approved by the FCC and the Department of Justice in January 2011.  The FCC conditioned its approval on, among other things, Comcast complying with the terms of the FCC’s recent order on network neutrality (even if that order is vacated by judicial or legislative action) and Comcast licensing its affiliated content to us, other traditional pay-TV providers and certain providers of video services over the Internet on fair and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions, including, among others, price.  If Comcast does not license its affiliated content to us on fair and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions, we can seek arbitration and continue to carry such content while the arbitration is pending.  However, it is uncertain how these conditions may be interpreted and enforced by the FCC; therefore, we cannot predict the practical effect of these conditions.

 

We face increasing competition from other distributors of foreign language programming that may limit our ability to maintain our foreign language programming subscriber base.

 

We face increasing competition from other distributors of foreign language programming, including programming distributed over the Internet.  There can be no assurance that we will maintain subscribers in our foreign language programming services.  In addition, the increasing availability of foreign language programming from our

 

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competitors, which in certain cases has resulted from our inability to renew programming agreements on an exclusive basis or at all, could contribute to an increase in our subscriber churn.  Our agreements with distributors of foreign language programming have varying expiration dates, and some agreements are on a month-to-month basis.  There can be no assurance that we will be able to grow or maintain our foreign language programming subscriber base.

 

Operational and Service Delivery Risks Affecting our Business

 

If we do not continue improving our operational performance and customer satisfaction, our gross new subscriber activations may decrease and our subscriber churn may increase.

 

If we are unable to continue improving our operational performance and customer satisfaction, we may experience a decrease in gross new subscriber activations and an increase in churn, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  To continue improving our operational performance, we need to make significant investments in staffing, training, information systems, and other initiatives, primarily in our call center and in-home service operations.  These investments are intended to help combat inefficiencies introduced by the increasing complexity of our business, improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, increase productivity, and allow us to scale better over the long run.  We cannot, however, be certain that our spending will ultimately be successful in improving our operational performance.  In the meantime, we may continue to incur higher costs to improve our operational performance.  While we believe that these costs will be outweighed by longer-term benefits, there can be no assurance when or if we will realize these benefits at all.  If we are unable to improve our operational performance, our future gross new subscriber activations and existing subscriber churn may be negatively impacted, which could in turn adversely affect our revenue growth and results of operations.

 

If our gross new subscriber activations decrease, or if subscriber churn, subscriber acquisition costs or retention costs increase, our financial performance will be adversely affected.

 

We may incur increased costs to acquire new subscribers and retain existing subscribers.  Our subscriber acquisition costs could increase as a result of increased spending for advertising and the installation of more HD and DVR receivers, which are generally more expensive than other receivers.  Meanwhile, retention costs may be driven higher by increased upgrades of existing subscribers’ equipment to HD and DVR receivers.  Additionally, certain of our promotions, including, among others, pay-in-advance, allow consumers with relatively lower credit scores to become subscribers.  These subscribers typically churn at a higher rate.

 

Our subscriber acquisition costs and our subscriber retention costs can vary significantly from period to period and can cause material variability to our net income (loss) and free cash flow.  Any material increase in subscriber acquisition or retention costs from current levels could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.

 

Programming expenses are increasing and could adversely affect our future financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our programming costs currently represent the largest component of our total expense and we expect these costs to continue to increase.  The pay-TV industry has continued to experience an increase in the cost of programming, especially local broadcast channels and sports programming.  Our ability to compete successfully will depend on our ability to continue to obtain desirable programming and deliver it to our subscribers at competitive prices.

 

When offering new programming, or upon expiration of existing contracts, programming suppliers have historically attempted to increase the rates they charge us for programming.  We expect this practice to continue, which, if successful, would increase our programming costs.  As a result, our margins may face further pressure if we are unable to renew our long-term programming contracts on favorable pricing and other economic terms.

 

In addition, increases in programming costs could cause us to increase the rates that we charge our subscribers, which could in turn cause our existing subscribers to disconnect our service or cause potential new subscribers to choose not to subscribe to our service.  Therefore, we may be unable to pass increased programming costs on to our customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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We depend on others to provide the programming that we offer to our subscribers and, if we lose access to this programming, our gross new subscriber activations may decline and subscriber churn may increase.

 

We depend on third parties to provide us with programming services.  Our programming agreements have remaining terms ranging from less than one to up to several years and contain various renewal and cancellation provisions.  We may not be able to renew these agreements on favorable terms or at all, and these agreements may be canceled prior to expiration of their original term.  Certain programmers have, in the past, temporarily limited our access to their programming.  For example, during the fourth quarter 2010, our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn were negatively impacted as a result of multiple programming interruptions and threatened programming interruptions related to contract disputes with several content providers.  If we are unable to renew any of these agreements or the other parties cancel the agreements, there can be no assurance that we would be able to obtain substitute programming, or that such substitute programming would be comparable in quality or cost to our existing programming.  In addition, loss of access to programming could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, including, among other things, our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn rate.

 

We may be required to make substantial additional investments to maintain competitive programming offerings.

 

We believe that the availability and extent of HD programming continues to be a significant factor in consumers’ choice among pay-TV providers.  Other pay-TV providers may have more successfully marketed and promoted their HD programming packages and may also be better equipped and have greater resources to increase their HD offerings to respond to increasing consumer demand for this content.  In addition, even though it remains a small portion of the market, consumer demand for 3D televisions and programming will likely increase in the future.  We may be required to make substantial additional investments in infrastructure to respond to competitive pressure to deliver additional programming, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to compete effectively with programming offerings from other pay-TV providers.

 

Any failure or inadequacy of our information technology infrastructure could harm our business.

 

The capacity, reliability and security of our information technology hardware and software infrastructure (including our billing systems) are important to the operation of our current business, which would suffer in the event of system failures.  Likewise, our ability to expand and update our information technology infrastructure in response to our growth and changing needs is important to the continued implementation of our new service offering initiatives.  Our inability to expand or upgrade our technology infrastructure could have adverse consequences, which could include the delayed implementation of new service offerings, service or billing interruptions, and the diversion of development resources.  For example, during 2011, we implemented new interactive voice response and in-home appointment scheduling systems.  Also during 2011, we began developing and testing a new CSG billing system as well as new sales and customer care systems that are likely to be implemented in 2012.  We are relying on third parties for developing key components of these systems and ongoing service after their implementation.  Third parties may experience errors or disruptions that could adversely impact us and over which we may have limited control.  Interruption, failure and/or delay in transitioning to any of these new systems could disrupt our operations and damage our reputation thus adversely impacting our ability to provide our services, retain our current subscribers and attract new subscribers.  As a result, an unsuccessful transition to these new systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

In addition, although we take protective measures and endeavor to modify them as circumstances warrant, our information technology hardware and software infrastructure may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, misuse, computer viruses or other malicious code and other events that could have a security impact.  If one or more of such events occur, this potentially could jeopardize our customer and other information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our information technology hardware and software infrastructure, or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our operations, which could result in significant losses or reputational damage. We may be required to expend significant additional resources to modify our protective measures or to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities or other exposures, and we may be subject to litigation and financial losses.

 

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We rely on EchoStar, to design and develop all of our new set-top boxes and certain related components, and to provide transponder capacity, digital broadcast operations and other services to us.  Our business would be adversely affected if EchoStar ceases to provide these products and services to us and we are unable to obtain suitable replacement products and services from third parties.

 

EchoStar is our sole supplier of digital set-top boxes and digital broadcast operations.  In addition, EchoStar is a key supplier of transponder capacity and related services to us.  We purchase digital set-top boxes from EchoStar pursuant to a contract that expires on December 31, 2014.  EchoStar provides digital broadcast operations to us pursuant to a contract that expires on December 31, 2016.  EchoStar has no obligation to supply digital set-top boxes or digital broadcast operations to us after these dates.  We may be unable to renew agreements for digital set-top boxes or digital broadcast operations with EchoStar on acceptable terms or at all.  Equipment, transponder leasing and digital broadcast operation costs may increase beyond our current expectations.  EchoStar’s inability to develop and produce, or our inability to obtain, equipment with the latest technology, or our inability to obtain transponder capacity and digital broadcast operations and other services from third parties, could affect our subscriber acquisition and churn and cause related revenue to decline.

 

Furthermore, due to the lack of compatibility of our infrastructure with the set-top boxes of a provider other than EchoStar, any transition to a new supplier of set-top boxes could take a significant period of time to complete, cause us to incur significant costs and negatively affect our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn.  For example, the proprietary nature of the Sling technology and certain other technology used in EchoStar’s set-top boxes may significantly limit our ability to obtain set-top boxes with the same or similar features from any other provider of set-top boxes.

 

If we were to switch to another provider of set-top boxes, we may have to implement additional infrastructure to support the set-top boxes purchased from such new provider, which could significantly increase our costs.  In addition, differences in, among other things, the user interface between set-top boxes provided by EchoStar and those of any other provider could cause subscriber confusion, which could increase our costs and have a material adverse effect on our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn.  Furthermore, switching to a new provider of set-top boxes may cause a reduction in our supply of set-top boxes and thus delay our ability to ship set-top boxes, which could have a material adverse effect on our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn rate.

 

We operate in an extremely competitive environment and our success may depend in part on our timely introduction and implementation of, and effective investment in, new competitive products and services, the failure of which could negatively impact our business.

 

Our operating results are dependent to a significant extent upon our ability to continue to introduce new products and services and to upgrade existing products and services on a timely basis, and to reduce costs of our existing products and services.  We may not be able to successfully identify new product or service opportunities or develop and market these opportunities in a timely or cost-effective manner.  The research and development of new, technologically advanced products is a complex and uncertain process requiring high levels of innovation and investment.  The success of new product and service development depends on many factors, including among others, the following:

 

·                  difficulties and delays in the development, production, timely completion, testing and marketing of products and services;

·                  the cost of the products and services;

·                  proper identification of customer need and customer acceptance of products;

·                  the development of, approval of and compliance with industry standards;

·                  the significant amount of resources we must devote to the development of new technologies; and

·                  the ability to differentiate our products and services and compete with other companies in the same markets.

 

If our products and services, including without limitation, our new whole-home HD DVR entertainment system featuring the Hopper, are not competitive or do not work properly, our business could suffer and our financial

 

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performance could be negatively impacted.  If the quality of our products and services do not meet our customers’ expectations or our products are found to be defective, then our sales and revenues, and ultimately our reputation, could be negatively impacted.

 

Technology in our industry changes rapidly and our inability to offer new subscribers and upgrade existing subscribers with more advanced equipment could cause our products and services to become obsolete.

 

Technology in the pay-TV industry changes rapidly as new technologies are developed, which could cause our products and services to become obsolete.  We and our suppliers may not be able to keep pace with technological developments.  If the new technologies on which we intend to focus our research and development investments fail to achieve acceptance in the marketplace, our competitive position could be negatively impacted causing a reduction in our revenues and earnings.  We may also be at a competitive disadvantage in developing and introducing complex new products and services because of the substantial costs we may incur in making these products or services available across our installed base of approximately 14 million subscribers.  For example, our competitors could use proprietary technologies that are perceived by the market as being superior.  Further, after we have incurred substantial costs, one or more of the products or services under our development, or under development by one or more of our strategic partners, could become obsolete prior to it being widely adopted.

 

In addition, our competitive position depends in part on our ability to offer new subscribers and upgrade existing subscribers with more advanced equipment, such as receivers with DVR and HD technology and by otherwise making additional infrastructure investments, such as those related to our information technology and call centers.  Furthermore, the continued demand for HD programming continues to require investments in additional satellite capacity.  We may not be able to pass on to our subscribers the entire cost of these upgrades and infrastructure investments.

 

New technologies could also create new competitors for us.  For instance, we face increasing consumer demand for the delivery of digital video services via the Internet, including providing what we refer to as “TV Everywhere.”  We expect to continue to face increased threats from companies who use the Internet to deliver digital video services as the speed and quality of broadband and wireless networks continues to improve.

 

Technological innovation is important to our success and depends, to a significant degree, on the work of technically skilled employees.  We rely on EchoStar to design and develop set-top boxes with advanced features and functionality and solutions for providing digital video services via the Internet.  If EchoStar is unable to attract and retain appropriately technically skilled employees, our competitive position could be materially and adversely affected.  In addition, delays in the delivery of components or other unforeseen problems associated with our technology may occur that could materially and adversely affect our ability to generate revenue, offer new products and services and remain competitive.

 

We rely on a single vendor or a limited number of vendors to provide certain key products or services to us such as information technology support, billing systems, and security access devices, and the inability of these key vendors to meet our needs could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Historically, we have contracted with a single vendor or a limited number of vendors to provide certain key products or services to us such as information technology support, billing systems, and security access devices.  If these vendors are unable to meet our needs because they fail to perform adequately, are no longer in business, are experiencing shortages or discontinue a certain product or service we need, our business, financial position and results of operations may be adversely affected.  While alternative sources for these products and services exist, we may not be able to develop these alternative sources quickly and cost-effectively which could materially impair our ability to timely deliver our products to our subscribers or operate our business.  Furthermore, our vendors may request changes in pricing, payment terms or other contractual obligations between the parties, which could cause us to make substantial additional investments.

 

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Our sole supplier of new set-top boxes, EchoStar, relies on a few suppliers and in some cases a single supplier, for many components of our new set-top boxes, and any reduction or interruption in supplies or significant increase in the price of supplies could have a negative impact on our business.

 

EchoStar relies on a few suppliers and in some cases a single supplier, for many components of our new set-top boxes that we provide to subscribers in order to deliver our digital television services. Our ability to meet customer demand depends, in part, on EchoStar’s ability to obtain timely and adequate delivery of quality materials, parts and components from suppliers. In the event of an interruption of supply or a significant price increase from these suppliers, EchoStar may not be able to diversify sources of supply in a timely manner, which could have a negative impact on our business. Further, due to increased demand for products, many electronic manufacturers are experiencing shortages for certain components. EchoStar has experienced in the past and may continue to experience shortages driven by raw material availability, manufacturing capacity, labor shortages, industry allocations, natural disasters and significant changes in the financial or business conditions of our suppliers that negatively impact our operations.

 

For example, during 2011, several regions of Thailand experienced severe flooding, causing damage to infrastructure, housing and factories. Certain of EchoStar’s hard drive suppliers are located in Thailand.  There is uncertainty regarding the ultimate impact of this event on our business, but there is a risk in the future that EchoStar could experience delays or other constraints in obtaining hard drive components. There can be no assurance that we will not encounter shortages in the future or that such shortages will not negatively impact our operations.  Any such delays or constraints could have a material adverse affect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, including, among other things, our gross new subscriber activations.

 

Our programming signals are subject to theft, and we are vulnerable to other forms of fraud that could require us to make significant expenditures to remedy.

 

Increases in theft of our signal or our competitors’ signals could, in addition to reducing new subscriber activations, also cause subscriber churn to increase.  We use microchips embedded in credit card-sized cards, called “smart cards” or Security Access Devices.

 

Our signal encryption has been compromised in the past and may be compromised in the future even though we continue to respond with significant investment in security measures, such as Security Access Device replacement programs and updates in security software, that are intended to make signal theft more difficult.  It has been our prior experience that security measures may only be effective for short periods of time or not at all and that we remain susceptible to additional signal theft.  During 2009, we completed the replacement of our Security Access Devices and re-secured our system.  We expect additional future replacements of these devices will be necessary to keep our system secure.  We cannot ensure that we will be successful in reducing or controlling theft of our programming content and we may incur additional costs in the future if our system’s security is compromised.

 

We are also vulnerable to other forms of fraud.  While we are addressing certain fraud through a number of actions, including terminating retailers that we believe violated DISH Network’s business rules, there can be no assurance that we will not continue to experience fraud which could impact our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn.  Sustained economic weakness may create greater incentive for signal theft and other forms of fraud, which could lead to higher subscriber churn and reduced revenue.

 

We depend on third parties to solicit orders for DISH services that represent a significant percentage of our total gross new subscriber activations.

 

Most of our retailers are not exclusive to us and some of our retailers may favor our competitors’ products and services over ours based on the relative financial arrangements associated with marketing our products and services and those of our competitors.  Furthermore, most of these retailers are significantly smaller than we are and may be more susceptible to sustained economic weaknesses that make it more difficult for them to operate profitably.  Because our retailers receive most of their incentive value at activation and not over an extended period of time, our interests in obtaining and retaining subscribers through good customer service may not always be aligned with our retailers.  It may be difficult to better align our interests with our resellers’ because of their capital and liquidity

 

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constraints.  Loss of these relationships could have an adverse effect on our subscriber base and certain of our other key operating metrics because we may not be able to develop comparable alternative distribution channels.

 

Our local programming strategy faces uncertainty because we may not be able to obtain necessary retransmission consent agreements at acceptable rates from local network stations.

 

The Copyright Act generally gives satellite companies a statutory copyright license to retransmit local broadcast channels by satellite back into the market from which they originated, subject to obtaining the retransmission consent of local network stations that do not elect “must carry” status, as required by the Communications Act.  If we fail to reach retransmission consent agreements with such broadcasters, we cannot carry their signals.  This could have an adverse effect on our strategy to compete with cable and other satellite companies that provide local signals.  While we have been able to reach retransmission consent agreements with most of these local network stations, there remain stations with which we have not been able to reach an agreement.  We cannot be sure that we will secure these agreements or that we will secure new agreements on acceptable terms (or at all) upon the expiration of our current retransmission consent agreements, some of which are short-term.  In recent years, national broadcasters have used their ownership of certain local broadcast stations to require us to carry additional cable programming in exchange for retransmission consent of their local broadcast stations.  These requirements may place constraints on available capacity on our satellites for other programming.  Furthermore, the rates we are charged for retransmitting local channels have been increasing.  We may be unable to pass these increased programming costs on to our customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have limited owned and leased satellite capacity and failures or reduced capacity could adversely affect our business.

 

Operation of our programming service requires that we have adequate satellite transmission capacity for the programming we offer.  Moreover, current competitive conditions require that we continue to expand our offering of new programming, particularly by expanding local HD coverage and offering more HD national channels.  While we generally have had in-orbit satellite capacity sufficient to transmit our existing channels and some backup capacity to recover the transmission of certain critical programming, our backup capacity is limited.

 

Our ability to earn revenue depends on the usefulness of our satellites, each of which has a limited useful life.  A number of factors affect the useful lives of the satellites, including, among other things, the quality of their construction, the durability of their component parts, the ability to continue to maintain proper orbit and control over the satellite’s functions, the efficiency of the launch vehicle used, and the remaining on-board fuel following orbit insertion.  Generally, the minimum design life of each of our satellites ranges from 12 to 15 years.  We can provide no assurance, however, as to the actual useful lives of the satellites.  Our operating results could be adversely affected if the useful life of any of our satellites were significantly shorter than 12 years from the launch date.

 

In the event of a failure or loss of any of our satellites, we may need to acquire or lease additional satellite capacity or relocate one of our other satellites and use it as a replacement for the failed or lost satellite, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Such a failure could result in a prolonged loss of critical programming or a significant delay in our plans to expand programming as necessary to remain competitive.  A relocation would require FCC approval and, among other things, a showing to the FCC that the replacement satellite would not cause additional interference compared to the failed or lost satellite.  We cannot be certain that we could obtain such FCC approval.  If we choose to use a satellite in this manner, this use could adversely affect our ability to satisfy certain operational conditions associated with our authorizations.  Failure to satisfy those conditions could result in the loss of such authorizations, which would have an adverse effect on our ability to generate revenues.

 

Our owned and leased satellites are subject to construction, launch, operational and environmental risks that could limit our ability to utilize these satellites.

 

Construction and launch risks.  A key component of our business strategy is our ability to expand our offering of new programming and services, including increased local and HD programming.  To accomplish this goal, we need to construct and launch satellites.  Satellite construction and launch is subject to significant risks, including construction and launch delays, launch failure and incorrect orbital placement.  Certain launch vehicles that may be

 

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used by us have either unproven track records or have experienced launch failures in the recent past.  The risks of launch delay and failure are usually greater when the launch vehicle does not have a track record of previous successful flights.  Launch failures result in significant delays in the deployment of satellites because of the need both to construct replacement satellites, which can take more than three years, and to obtain other launch opportunities.  Significant construction or launch delays could materially and adversely affect our ability to generate revenues.  If we were unable to obtain launch insurance, or obtain launch insurance at rates we deem commercially reasonable, and a significant launch failure were to occur, it could have a material adverse effect on our ability to fund future satellite procurement and launch opportunities.

 

In addition, the occurrence of future launch failures for other operators may delay the deployment of our satellites and materially and adversely affect our ability to insure the launch of our satellites at commercially reasonable premiums, if at all.  Please see further discussion under the caption “We generally do not have commercial insurance coverage on the satellites we use and could face significant impairment charges if one of our satellites fails” below.

 

Operational risks.  Satellites are subject to significant operational risks while in orbit.  These risks include malfunctions, commonly referred to as anomalies, that have occurred in our satellites and the satellites of other operators as a result of various factors, such as satellite manufacturers’ errors, problems with the power systems or control systems of the satellites and general failures resulting from operating satellites in the harsh environment of space.

 

Although we work closely with the satellite manufacturers to determine and eliminate the cause of anomalies in new satellites and provide for redundancies of many critical components in the satellites, we may experience anomalies in the future, whether of the types described above or arising from the failure of other systems or components.

 

Any single anomaly or series of anomalies could materially and adversely affect our operations and revenues and our relationship with current customers, as well as our ability to attract new customers for our pay-TV services.  In particular, future anomalies may result in the loss of individual transponders on a satellite, a group of transponders on that satellite or the entire satellite, depending on the nature of the anomaly.  Anomalies may also reduce the expected useful life of a satellite, thereby reducing the channels that could be offered using that satellite, or create additional expenses due to the need to provide replacement or back-up satellites.  You should review the disclosures relating to satellite anomalies set forth under Note 7 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Environmental risks.  Meteoroid events pose a potential threat to all in-orbit satellites.  The probability that meteoroids will damage those satellites increases significantly when the Earth passes through the particulate stream left behind by comets.  Occasionally, increased solar activity also poses a potential threat to all in-orbit satellites.

 

Some decommissioned spacecraft are in uncontrolled orbits that pass through the geostationary belt at various points, and present hazards to operational spacecraft, including our satellites.  We may be required to perform maneuvers to avoid collisions and these maneuvers may prove unsuccessful or could reduce the useful life of the satellite through the expenditure of fuel to perform these maneuvers.  The loss, damage or destruction of any of our satellites as a result of an electrostatic storm, collision with space debris, malfunction or other event could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We generally do not have commercial insurance coverage on the satellites we use and could face significant impairment charges if one of our satellites fails.

 

Generally, we do not carry launch or in-orbit insurance on the satellites we use.  We currently do not carry in-orbit insurance on any of our satellites and generally do not use commercial insurance to mitigate the potential financial impact of launch or in-orbit failures because we believe that the cost of insurance premiums is uneconomical relative to the risk of such failures.  If one or more of our in-orbit satellites fail, we could be required to record significant impairment charges.

 

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We may have potential conflicts of interest with EchoStar due to our common ownership and management.

 

Questions relating to conflicts of interest may arise between EchoStar and us in a number of areas relating to our past and ongoing relationships. Areas in which conflicts of interest between EchoStar and us could arise include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

·                  Cross officerships, directorships and stock ownershipWe have certain overlap in directors and executive officers with EchoStar, which may lead to conflicting interests.  Our Board of Directors and executive officers include persons who are members of the Board of Directors of EchoStar, including Charles W. Ergen, who serves as the Chairman of EchoStar and us.  The executive officers and the members of our Board of Directors who overlap with EchoStar have fiduciary duties to EchoStar’s shareholders.  For example, there is the potential for a conflict of interest when we or EchoStar look at acquisitions and other corporate opportunities that may be suitable for both companies.  In addition, certain of our directors and officers own EchoStar stock and options to purchase EchoStar stock, which they acquired or were granted prior to the Spin-off of EchoStar from us, including Mr. Ergen, who owns approximately 50.7% of the total equity (assuming conversion of only the Class B Common Stock held by Mr. Ergen into Class A Common Stock) and controls approximately 75.6% of the voting power of EchoStar.  Mr. Ergen’s beneficial ownership of EchoStar excludes 8,734,250 shares of its Class A Common Stock issuable upon conversion of shares of its Class B Common Stock currently held by certain trusts established by Mr. Ergen for the benefit of his family.  These trusts beneficially own approximately 18.3% of EchoStar’s total equity securities (assuming conversion of only the Class B Common Stock held by such trusts into Class A Common Stock) and possess approximately 16.9% of EchoStar’s total voting power. These ownership interests could create actual, apparent or potential conflicts of interest when these individuals are faced with decisions that could have different implications for us and EchoStar.  Furthermore, Charles W. Ergen, our Chairman, and Roger Lynch, Executive Vice President, Advanced Technologies, are employed by both us and EchoStar and Paul Orban, our Senior Vice President and Controller, provides management services to EchoStar pursuant to a management services agreement between EchoStar and us.  These individuals may have actual or apparent conflicts of interest with respect to matters involving or affecting each company.

 

·                  Intercompany agreements related to the Spin-off.  We have entered into certain agreements with EchoStar pursuant to which we provide EchoStar with certain management, administrative, accounting, tax, legal and other services, for which EchoStar pays us our cost plus a fixed margin.  In addition, we have entered into a number of intercompany agreements covering matters such as tax sharing and EchoStar’s responsibility for certain liabilities previously undertaken by us for certain of EchoStar’s businesses.  We have also entered into certain commercial agreements with EchoStar pursuant to which EchoStar, among other things, sells set-top boxes and related equipment to us at specified prices.  The terms of certain of these agreements were established while EchoStar was a wholly-owned subsidiary of us and were not the result of arm’s length negotiations.  The allocation of assets, liabilities, rights, indemnifications and other obligations between EchoStar and us under the separation and other intercompany agreements we entered into with EchoStar in connection with the Spin-off of EchoStar may have been different if agreed to by two unaffiliated parties.  Had these agreements been negotiated with unaffiliated third parties, their terms may have been more favorable, or less favorable, to us.  In addition, conflicts could arise between us and EchoStar in the interpretation or any extension or renegotiation of these existing agreements.

 

·                  Additional intercompany transactions.  EchoStar or its affiliates have and will continue to enter into transactions with us or our subsidiaries or other affiliates.  Although the terms of any such transactions will be established based upon negotiations between EchoStar and us and, when appropriate, subject to the approval of a committee of the non-interlocking directors or in certain instances non-interlocking management, there can be no assurance that the terms of any such transactions will be as favorable to us or our subsidiaries or affiliates as may otherwise be obtained between unaffiliated parties.

 

·                  Business opportunities.  We have retained interests in various companies that have subsidiaries or controlled affiliates that own or operate domestic or foreign services that may compete with services offered by EchoStar.  We may also compete with EchoStar when we participate in auctions for spectrum or orbital slots for our satellites.  In addition, EchoStar may in the future use its satellites, uplink and transmission assets to compete directly against us in the subscription television business.

 

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We may not be able to resolve any potential conflicts, and, even if we do so, the resolution may be less favorable to us than if we were dealing with an unaffiliated party.

 

We do not have any agreements with EchoStar that would prevent either company from competing with the other.

 

We rely on key personnel and the loss of their services may negatively affect our businesses.

 

We believe that our future success will depend to a significant extent upon the performance of Charles W. Ergen, our Chairman, and certain other executives.  The loss of Mr. Ergen or of certain other key executives could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Although all of our executives have executed agreements limiting their ability to work for or consult with competitors if they leave us, we do not have employment agreements with any of them.  Paul W. Orban, our Senior Vice President and Controller, provides services to EchoStar pursuant to a management services agreement with EchoStar.  In addition, Roger J. Lynch also serves as Executive Vice President, Advanced Technologies of EchoStar.  To the extent these and other officers are performing services for EchoStar, this may divert their time and attention away from our business and may therefore adversely affect our business.

 

Acquisition and Capital Structure Risks Affecting our Business

 

We have agreed to acquire certain spectrum and other assets from DBSD North America and TerreStar and we have paid substantially all of the purchase price for these acquisitions.  If we are unable to obtain certain regulatory approvals and waivers, or they are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, the value of these assets may be impaired. To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, we will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these assets.

 

During the first half of 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America for approximately $1.4 billion upon DBSD North America’s emergence from bankruptcy, which included capital stock and convertible securities of, and certain claims related to, DBSD North America.  In addition, in June 2011, we entered into the TerreStar Transaction for a purchase price of $1.375 billion. We have paid all but $30 million of the purchase price for the TerreStar Transaction, which will be paid upon closing of the TerreStar Transaction, or upon certain other conditions being met under the asset purchase agreement.  Additionally, during the fourth quarter 2011, we and Sprint entered into the Sprint Settlement Agreement pursuant to which all disputed issues relating to our acquisition of DBSD North America and the TerreStar Transaction were resolved between us and Sprint, including, but not limited to, issues relating to costs allegedly incurred by Sprint to relocate users from the spectrum now licensed to DBSD North America and TerreStar.  Pursuant to the Sprint Settlement Agreement, we made a net payment of approximately $114 million to Sprint.  Our ultimate acquisition of 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America and consummation of the TerreStar Transaction are subject to certain conditions, including approval by the FCC.

 

Under our agreements to acquire DBSD North America and purchase TerreStar’s assets, we paid substantially all of the purchase price for both transactions prior to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals (the FCC with respect to DBSD North America, and the FCC and Industry Canada with respect to TerreStar).  On February 7, 2012, Industry Canada approved the transfer of the Canadian spectrum licenses held by TerreStar to us.  If the remaining required approvals are not obtained, subject to certain exceptions, we have the right to require and direct the sale of some or all of the assets of the relevant company to a third party and we would be entitled to the proceeds from such a sale.  These proceeds could, however, be substantially less than amounts we have paid in the respective transactions.

 

In addition, our consolidated FCC applications for approval of the license transfers from DBSD North America and TerreStar were accompanied by requests for waiver of the integrated service requirement, the spare satellite requirement and various technical provisions.  Waiver of the integrated service requirement would allow DISH to offer single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who do not desire satellite functionality.  The spectrum licenses currently held by DBSD North America and TerreStar do not include a waiver of this integrated service requirement.  Our integrated service requirement waiver request has been opposed by certain parties, and there can be no assurance that the FCC will approve it.  If our FCC applications and waiver requests are not granted by the FCC, or are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, it could cause the value of these assets

 

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to be impaired, potentially requiring us to take significant write-downs on these assets.  We assess potential impairments to these assets annually, or more often if indicators of impairment arise, to determine whether an impairment condition may exist.  We use a probability weighted analysis considering estimated future cash flows discounted at a rate commensurate with the risk involved and market based data to assess potential impairments.

 

To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, there can be no assurance that we will be able to develop and implement a business model that will realize a return on these spectrum investments or that we will be able to profitably deploy the assets represented by these spectrum investments.  We will likely be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.  Because we have not received approval from the FCC, we do not yet know the full costs (including any build-out requirements) associated with complying with regulations applicable to our acquisition of DBSD North America or the TerreStar Transaction.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly, which may affect the carrying value of our investments and our future financial condition or results of operations.

 

We have made a substantial investment in certain 700 MHz wireless licenses and will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.

 

In 2008, we paid $712 million to acquire certain 700 MHz wireless licenses, which were granted to us by the FCC in February 2009.  To commercialize these licenses and satisfy the associated FCC build-out requirements, we will be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly.  Part or all of these licenses may be terminated if the associated FCC build-out requirements are not satisfied.

 

There can be no assurance that we will be able to develop and implement a business model that will realize a return on these investments and profitably deploy the spectrum represented by the 700 MHz licenses.

 

Furthermore, the fair values of wireless licenses may vary significantly in the future.  In particular, valuation swings could occur if:

 

·                  consolidation in the wireless industry allows or requires wireless carriers to sell significant portions of their wireless spectrum holdings, which could in turn reduce the value of our spectrum holdings; or

 

·                  a sudden large sale of spectrum by one or more wireless providers occurs.

 

In addition, the fair value of wireless licenses could decline as a result of the FCC’s pursuit of policies, including auctions, designed to increase the number of wireless licenses available in each of our markets.  If the fair value of our 700 MHz licenses were to decline significantly, the value of our 700 MHz licenses could be subject to non-cash impairment charges.  We assess potential impairments to our indefinite-lived intangible assets annually or more often if indicators of impairment arise to determine whether there is evidence that indicate an impairment condition may exist.

 

Our Blockbuster business, and retail stores in particular, face risks, including, among other things, operational challenges and increasing competition from video rental kiosk, streaming and mail order businesses that may negatively impact the business, financial condition or results of operations of Blockbuster.

 

On April 26, 2011, we completed the Blockbuster Acquisition.  As of December 31, 2011, Blockbuster operated over 1,500 retail stores in the United States.  Blockbuster’s retail store operations involve the management and distribution of product inventories, and we have limited experience in operating retail stores.  Factors that are unique to the Blockbuster business, compared to our existing businesses, include, among other things, maintaining adequate inventory, controlling shrinkage due to theft and loss, managing excess inventory and product fulfillment.  Prior to the acquisition, Blockbuster experienced significant operating and financial challenges, which resulted in Blockbuster commencing bankruptcy proceedings.  If we are unable to successfully address these challenges and risks, our Blockbuster business, financial condition or results of operations may likely suffer.

 

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In addition, our Blockbuster retail store operations face increasing competition from video rental kiosk, streaming and mail order businesses.  These competitive pressures have contributed to weak store-level financial performance at many of our Blockbuster retail stores.  We expect to close over 500 domestic stores during the first half of 2012 as a result of weak store-level financial performance.

 

We continue to evaluate the impact of certain factors, including, among other things, competitive pressures, the scale of our Blockbuster retail operations and other issues impacting the store-level financial performance of our Blockbuster retail stores.  These factors, or other reasons, could lead us to close additional Blockbuster retail stores.  There is no assurance that we will achieve the expected benefits from the Blockbuster Acquisition.

 

We may pursue acquisitions and other strategic transactions to complement or expand our business that may not be successful and we may lose up to the entire value of our investment in these acquisitions and transactions.

 

Our future success may depend on opportunities to buy other businesses or technologies that could complement, enhance or expand our current business or products or that might otherwise offer us growth opportunities.

 

We may be unable to obtain in the anticipated timeframe, or at all, any regulatory approvals required to complete proposed acquisitions and other strategic transactions.  Furthermore, the conditions imposed for obtaining any necessary approvals could delay the completion of such transactions for a significant period of time or prevent them from occurring at all.  We may not be able to complete such transactions and such transactions, if executed, pose significant risks and could have a negative effect on our operations.  Any transactions that we are able to identify and complete may involve a number of risks, including:

 

·                  the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing business to integrate the operations and personnel of the acquired or combined business or joint venture;

 

·                  possible adverse effects on our operating results during the integration process;

 

·                  a high degree of risk involved in these transactions, which could become substantial over time, and higher exposure to significant financial losses if the underlying ventures are not successful;

 

·                  our possible inability to achieve the intended objectives of the transaction; and

 

·                  the risks associated with complying with regulations applicable to the acquired business, which may cause us to incur substantial expenses.

 

In addition, we may not be able to successfully or profitably integrate, operate, maintain and manage our newly acquired operations or employees.  We may not be able to maintain uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies, and this may lead to operational inefficiencies.  In addition, the integration process may strain our financial and managerial controls and reporting systems and procedures.

 

New acquisitions, joint ventures and other transactions may require the commitment of significant capital that would otherwise be directed to investments in our existing businesses.  Commitment of this capital may cause us to defer or suspend any share repurchases that we otherwise may have made.

 

These transactions pose substantial risks and require the commitment of significant capital both to complete the acquisitions and to operate the acquired businesses following their acquisition. These acquisitions may result in significant financial losses if the intended objectives of the transactions are not achieved.  Some of the businesses acquired by us have experienced significant operating and financial challenges in their recent history, which in some cases resulted in these businesses commencing bankruptcy proceedings.  We may acquire similar businesses in the future. There is no assurance that we will be able to successfully address the challenges and risks encountered by these businesses following their acquisition.  If we are unable to successfully address these challenges and risks, our business, financial condition or results of operations may likely suffer.

 

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We may need additional capital, which may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, to continue investing in our business and to finance acquisitions and other strategic transactions.

 

We may need to raise additional capital in the future, which may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, to among other things, continue investing in our business, construct and launch new satellites, and to pursue acquisitions and other strategic transactions.

 

Furthermore, weakness in the equity markets could make it difficult for us to raise equity financing without incurring substantial dilution to our existing shareholders.  In addition, sustained economic weakness or weak results of operations may limit our ability to generate sufficient internal cash to fund these investments, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other strategic transactions.  As a result, these conditions make it difficult for us to accurately forecast and plan future business activities because we may not have access to funding sources necessary for us to pursue organic and strategic business development opportunities.

 

A portion of our investment portfolio is invested in securities that have experienced limited or no liquidity and may not be immediately accessible to support our financing needs.

 

A portion of our investment portfolio is invested in auction rate securities, mortgage backed securities, and strategic investments, and as a result a portion of our portfolio has restricted liquidity.  Liquidity in the markets for these investments has been adversely impacted.  If the credit ratings of these securities deteriorate or the lack of liquidity in the marketplace continues, we may be required to record further impairment charges.  Moreover, the sustained uncertainty of domestic and global financial markets has greatly affected the volatility and value of our marketable investment securities.  To the extent we require access to funds, we may need to sell these securities under unfavorable market conditions, record further impairment charges and fall short of our financing needs.

 

We have substantial debt outstanding and may incur additional debt.

 

As of December 31, 2011, our total debt, including the debt of our subsidiaries, was $7.494 billion.  Our debt levels could have significant consequences, including:

 

·                  requiring us to devote a substantial portion of our cash to make interest and principal payments on our debt, thereby reducing the amount of cash available for other purposes.  As a result, we would have limited  financial and operating flexibility in responding to changing economic and competitive conditions;

 

·                  limiting our ability to raise additional debt because it may be more difficult for us to obtain debt financing on attractive terms; and

 

·                  placing us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt.

 

In addition, we may incur substantial additional debt in the future.  The terms of the indentures relating to our senior notes permit us to incur additional debt.  If new debt is added to our current debt levels, the risks we now face could intensify.

 

It may be difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so may be beneficial to our shareholders, because of our ownership structure.

 

Certain provisions of our certificate of incorporation and bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company that a shareholder may consider favorable.  These provisions include the following:

 

·                  a capital structure with multiple classes of common stock:  a Class A that entitles the holders to one vote per share, a Class B that entitles the holders to ten votes per share, a Class C that entitles the holders to one vote per share, except upon a change in control of our company in which case the holders of Class C are entitled to ten votes per share;

 

·                  a provision that authorizes the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our Board of Directors to increase the number of outstanding shares and thwart a takeover attempt;

 

·                  a provision limiting who may call special meetings of shareholders; and

 

·                  a provision establishing advance notice requirements for nominations of candidates for election to our Board of Directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by shareholders at shareholder meetings.

 

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In addition, pursuant to our certificate of incorporation we have a significant amount of authorized and unissued stock which would allow our Board of Directors to issue shares to persons friendly to current management, thereby protecting the continuity of its management, or which could be used to dilute the stock ownership of persons seeking to obtain control of us.

 

We are controlled by one principal stockholder who is also our Chairman.

 

Charles W. Ergen, our Chairman, currently beneficially owns approximately 53.2% of our total equity securities (assuming conversion of only the Class B Common Stock held by Mr. Ergen into Class A Common Stock) and possesses approximately 90.4% of the total voting power.  Mr. Ergen’s beneficial ownership of shares of Class A Common Stock excludes 4,245,151 shares of Class A Common Stock issuable upon conversion of shares of Class B Common Stock currently held by certain trusts established by Mr. Ergen for the benefit of his family.  These trusts beneficially own approximately 2.0% of our total equity securities (assuming conversion of only the Class B Common Stock held by such trusts into Class A Common Stock) and possess approximately 1.6% of the total voting power.  Through his voting power, Mr. Ergen has the ability to elect a majority of our directors and to control all other matters requiring the approval of our stockholders.  As a result, DISH Network is a “controlled company” as defined in the Nasdaq listing rules and is, therefore, not subject to Nasdaq requirements that would otherwise require us to have: (i) a majority of independent directors; (ii) a nominating committee composed solely of independent directors; (iii) compensation of our executive officers determined by a majority of the independent directors or a compensation committee composed solely of independent directors; and (iv) director nominees selected, or recommended for the Board’s selection, either by a majority of the independent directors or a nominating committee composed solely of independent directors.

 

Legal and Regulatory Risks Affecting our Business

 

If Voom prevails in its breach of contract suit against us, we could be required to pay substantial damages, which would have a material adverse affect on our financial position and results of operations.

 

In January 2008, Voom HD Holdings (“Voom”) filed a lawsuit against us in New York Supreme Court, alleging breach of contract and other claims arising from our termination of the affiliation agreement governing carriage of certain Voom HD channels on the DISH pay-TV service.  At that time, Voom also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent us from terminating the agreement.  The Court denied Voom’s request, finding, among other things, that Voom had not demonstrated that it was likely to prevail on the merits.  In April 2010, we and Voom each filed motions for summary judgment.  Voom later filed two motions seeking discovery sanctions.  On November 9, 2010, the Court issued a decision denying both motions for summary judgment, but granting Voom’s motions for discovery sanctions.  The Court’s decision provides for an adverse inference jury instruction at trial and precludes our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We appealed the grant of Voom’s motion for discovery sanctions to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.  On February 15, 2011, the appellate court granted our motion to stay the trial pending our appeal.  On January 31, 2012, the appellate court affirmed the order imposing discovery sanctions and precluding our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We are seeking leave to appeal to New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals.  A trial date has not been set.  Voom is claiming over $2.5 billion in damages.  If we are unsuccessful in our suit with Voom, we may be required to pay substantial damages, which would have a material adverse affect on our financial position and results of operations.

 

Our business depends on certain intellectual property rights and on not infringing the intellectual property rights of others.

 

We rely on our patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, as well as licenses and other agreements with our vendors and other parties, to use our technologies, conduct our operations and sell our products and services.  Legal challenges to our intellectual property rights and claims of intellectual property infringement by third parties could require that we enter into royalty or licensing agreements on unfavorable terms, incur substantial monetary liability or be enjoined preliminarily or permanently from further use of the intellectual property in question or from the continuation of our businesses as currently conducted, which could require us to change our business practices or limit our ability to compete effectively or could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.  Even if we believe any such challenges or claims are without merit, they can be time-consuming and costly to defend and divert

 

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management’s attention and resources away from our business.  Moreover, because of the rapid pace of technological change, we rely on technologies developed or licensed by third parties, and if we are unable to obtain or continue to obtain licenses from these third parties on reasonable terms, our business, financial position and results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

We are party to various lawsuits which, if adversely decided, could have a significant adverse impact on our business, particularly lawsuits regarding intellectual property.

 

We are subject to various legal proceedings and claims which arise in the ordinary course of business, including among other things, disputes with programmers regarding fees.  Many entities, including some of our competitors, have or may in the future obtain patents and other intellectual property rights that cover or affect products or services related to those that we offer.  In general, if a court determines that one or more of our products or services infringes on intellectual property held by others, we may be required to cease developing or marketing those products or services, to obtain licenses from the holders of the intellectual property at a material cost, or to redesign those products or services in such a way as to avoid infringing the intellectual property.  If those intellectual property rights are held by a competitor, we may be unable to obtain the intellectual property at any price, which could adversely affect our competitive position.  Please see further discussion under “Item 1. Business — Patents and Trademarks” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

We may not be aware of all intellectual property rights that our services or the products used in connection with our services may potentially infringe.  In addition, patent applications in the United States are confidential until the Patent and Trademark Office issues a patent.  Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate the extent to which our services or the products used in connection with our services may infringe claims contained in pending patent applications.  Further, it is often not possible to determine definitively whether a claim of infringement is valid.

 

Increased distribution of video content via the Internet could expose us to regulatory risk.

 

As a result of recent updates to certain of our programming agreements which allow us to, among other things, deliver certain authenticated content via the Internet, we are increasingly distributing content to our subscribers via the Internet.  The ability to continue this strategy may depend in part on the FCC’s success in implementing rules prohibiting discrimination against our distribution of content over networks owned by broadband and wireless Internet providers.  For more information, see “Item 1.  Business — Government Regulations — FCC Regulation under the Communications Act — Net Neutrality” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

We depend on the Cable Act for access to programming from cable-affiliate programmers at non-discriminatory rates.

 

We purchase a large percentage of our programming from cable-affiliated programmers.  The provisions of the Cable Act prohibiting exclusive contracting practices with cable-affiliated programmers were extended for another five-year period in September 2007.  Cable companies appealed the FCC’s decision, and while that decision was upheld by the D.C. Circuit in March 2010, that court indicated if the market continues to evolve, it is expected that the exclusivity prohibition may no longer be necessary.  Any change in the Cable Act and the FCC’s rules that currently limit the ability of cable-affiliated programmers to discriminate against competing businesses, such as ours, in the sale of programming could adversely affect our ability to acquire cable-affiliated programming at all or to acquire programming on a cost-effective basis.  As a result, we may be limited in our ability to obtain access on nondiscriminatory terms to programming from programmers that are affiliated with cable system operators.  In the case of certain types of programming affiliated with Comcast, Time-Warner Cable, and Liberty, the terms of access to the programming are subject to arbitration for a limited period of time if we and the programmer cannot reach agreement on terms, subject to FCC review.  We cannot be sure that this procedure will result in favorable terms for us or that the FCC conditions that establish this procedure will be allowed to expire on their own terms.

 

In addition, affiliates of certain cable providers have denied us access to sports programming they feed to their cable systems terrestrially, rather than by satellite.  The FCC recently held that new denials of such service are unfair if they have the purpose or effect of significantly hindering us from providing programming to consumers.  However, we cannot be sure that we can prevail in a complaint related to such programming, and gain access to it.  Our

 

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continuing failure to access such programming could materially and adversely affect our ability to compete in regions serviced by these cable providers.

 

The injunction against our retransmission of distant networks, which is currently waived, may be reinstated.

 

Pursuant to STELA, we have been able to obtain a waiver of a court injunction that previously prevented us from retransmitting certain distant network signals under a statutory copyright license.  Because of that waiver, we may once again provide distant network signals to eligible subscribers.  To qualify for that waiver, we are required to provide local service in all 210 local markets in the U.S. on an ongoing basis.  This condition poses a significant strain on our capacity.  Moreover, we may lose that waiver if we are found to have failed to provide local service in any of the 210 local markets.  If we lose the waiver, the injunction could be reinstated.  Furthermore, depending on the severity of the failure, we may also be subject to other sanctions, which may include, among other things, damages.  Pursuant to STELA, our compliance with certain conditions of the waiver is subject to periodic examination and review.

 

We are subject to significant regulatory oversight, and changes in applicable regulatory requirements, including any adoption or modification of laws or regulations relating to the Internet, could adversely affect our business.

 

DBS operators are subject to significant government regulation, primarily by the FCC and, to a certain extent, by Congress, other federal agencies and foreign, state and local authorities.  Depending upon the circumstances, noncompliance with legislation or regulations promulgated by these entities could result in the suspension or revocation of our licenses or registrations, the termination or loss of contracts or the imposition of contractual damages, civil fines or criminal penalties, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Furthermore, the adoption or modification of laws or regulations relating to video programming, satellite services, the Internet or other areas of our business could limit or otherwise adversely affect the manner in which we currently conduct our business.  If we become subject to new regulations or legislation or new interpretations of existing regulations or legislation that govern Internet network neutrality, we may be required to incur additional expenses or alter our business model.  The manner in which legislation governing Internet network neutrality may be interpreted and enforced cannot be precisely determined, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. You should review the regulatory disclosures under the caption “Item 1.  Business — Government Regulation — FCC Regulation under the Communications Act” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Our business depends on FCC licenses that can expire or be revoked or modified and applications for FCC licenses that may not be granted.

 

If the FCC were to cancel, revoke, suspend, restrict, significantly condition, or fail to renew any of our licenses or authorizations, or fail to grant our applications for FCC licenses, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Specifically, loss of a frequency authorization would reduce the amount of spectrum available to us, potentially reducing the amount of services available to our subscribers.  The materiality of such a loss of authorizations would vary based upon, among other things, the location of the frequency used or the availability of replacement spectrum.  In addition, Congress often considers and enacts legislation that affects us and FCC proceedings to implement the Communications Act and enforce its regulations are ongoing.  We cannot predict the outcomes of these legislative or regulatory proceedings or their effect on our business.

 

We are subject to digital HD “carry-one, carry-all” requirements that cause capacity constraints.

 

To provide any full-power local broadcast signal in any market, we are required to retransmit all qualifying broadcast signals in that market (“carry-one, carry-all”).  The FCC has adopted digital carriage rules that require DBS providers to phase in carry-one, carry-all obligations with respect to the carriage of full-power broadcasters’ HD signals by February 2013 in markets in which DISH elects to provide local channels in HD.  In addition, STELA has imposed accelerated HD carriage requirements for noncommercial educational stations on DBS providers that do not have a certain contractual relationship with a certain number of such stations.  DISH Network has entered into an agreement with a number of PBS stations to comply with the requirements.  The carriage of

 

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additional HD signals on our pay-TV service could cause us to experience significant capacity constraints and prevent us from carrying additional popular national programs and/or carrying those national programs in HD.

 

In addition, there is a pending rulemaking before the FCC regarding whether to require DBS providers to carry all broadcast stations in a local market in both standard definition and HD if they carry any station in that market in both standard definition and HD.  If we were required to carry multiple versions of each broadcast station, we would have to dedicate more of our finite satellite capacity to each broadcast station.  We cannot predict the outcome or timing of that rulemaking process.

 

There can be no assurance that there will not be deficiencies leading to material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.

 

We periodically evaluate and test our internal control over financial reporting to satisfy the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  On April 26, 2011, we completed the Blockbuster Acquisition.  We are currently integrating policies, processes, people, technology and operations for the combined company.  Management will continue to evaluate our internal control over financial reporting as we execute integration activities.  Except as discussed above, our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2011.  If in the future we are unable to report that our internal control over financial reporting is effective (or if our auditors do not agree with our assessment of the effectiveness of, or are unable to express an opinion on, our internal control over financial reporting), investors, customers and business partners could lose confidence in the accuracy of our financial reports, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our business, investor confidence in our financial results may weaken, and our stock price may suffer.

 

We may face other risks described from time to time in periodic and current reports we file with the SEC.

 

Item 1B.              UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

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Item 2.   PROPERTIES

 

The following table sets forth certain information concerning our principal properties related to our DISH segment and our Blockbuster segment.

 

 

 

Segment(s)

 

 

 

Leased From

Description/Use/Location

 

Using
Property

 

Owned

 

EchoStar (1)

 

Other 
Third Party

Corporate headquarters, Englewood, Colorado

 

DISH

 

 

 

X

 

 

Customer call center and general offices, Pine Brook, New Jersey

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center and general offices, Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center, Alvin, Texas

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center, Bluefield, West Virginia

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Customer call center, Christiansburg, Virginia

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Customer call center, College Point, New York

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center, Harlingen, Texas

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Customer call center, Hilliard, Ohio

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center, Littleton, Colorado

 

DISH

 

 

 

X

 

 

Customer call center, Phoenix, Arizona

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Customer call center, Thornton, Colorado

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Customer call center, warehouse and service center, El Paso, Texas

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Service center, Englewood, Colorado

 

DISH

 

 

 

X

 

 

Service center, Spartanburg, South Carolina

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Warehouse and distribution center, Denver, Colorado

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Warehouse and distribution center, Sacramento, California

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Warehouse, Denver, Colorado

 

DISH

 

X

 

 

 

 

Warehouse, distribution and service center, Atlanta, Georgia

 

DISH

 

 

 

 

 

X

Warehouse and general offices, McKinney, Texas

 

Blockbuster

 

 

 

 

 

X

 


(1)         See Note 20 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion of our Related Party Transactions with EchoStar.

 

In addition to the principal properties listed above, we operate numerous DISH service centers strategically located in regions throughout the United States.  Furthermore, we own or lease capacity on 13 satellites which are a major component of our DISH pay-TV service.  See further discussion under “Item 1. Business — Satellites” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Item 3.   LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

We are involved in a number of legal proceedings (including those described below) concerning matters arising in connection with the conduct of our business activities.  Many of these proceedings are at preliminary stages, and many of these cases seek an indeterminate amount of damages.  We regularly evaluate the status of the legal proceedings in which we are involved to assess whether a loss is probable or there is a reasonable possibility that a loss or additional loss may have been incurred and to determine if accruals are appropriate.  If accruals are not appropriate, we further evaluate each legal proceeding to assess whether an estimate of the possible loss or range of possible loss can be made.

 

For certain cases described on the following pages, management is unable to provide a meaningful estimate of the possible loss or range of possible loss because, among other reasons, (i) the proceedings are in various stages; (ii) damages have not been sought; (iii) damages are unsupported and/or exaggerated; (iv) there is uncertainty as to the outcome of pending appeals or motions; (v) there are significant factual issues to be resolved; and/or (vi) there are novel legal issues or unsettled legal theories to be presented or a large number of parties (as with many patent-related cases).  For these cases, however, management does not believe, based on currently available information, that the outcomes of these proceedings will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, though the

 

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outcomes could be material to our operating results for any particular period, depending, in part, upon the operating results for such period.

 

Broadcast Innovation, L.L.C.

 

During 2001, Broadcast Innovation, L.L.C. (“Broadcast Innovation”) filed a lawsuit against us, DirecTV, Thomson Consumer Electronics and others in United States District Court in Denver, Colorado.  Broadcast Innovation is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  The suit alleges infringement of United States Patent Nos. 6,076,094 (the “‘094 patent”) and 4,992,066 (the “‘066 patent”).  The ‘094 patent relates to certain methods and devices for transmitting and receiving data along with specific formatting information for the data.  The ‘066 patent relates to certain methods and devices for providing the scrambling circuitry for a pay television system on removable cards.  Subsequently, DirecTV and Thomson settled with Broadcast Innovation leaving us as the only defendant.

 

During 2004, the District Court issued an order finding the ‘066 patent invalid.  Also in 2004, the District Court found the ‘094 patent invalid in a parallel case filed by Broadcast Innovation against Charter and Comcast.  In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that finding of invalidity with respect to the ‘094 patent and remanded the Charter case back to the District Court.  During June 2006, Charter filed a request for reexamination of the ‘094 patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and, on December 13, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a certificate cancelling all claims of the ‘094 patent.  On February 2, 2012, Broadcast Innovation dismissed the case against us with prejudice.

 

Channel Bundling Class Action

 

During 2007, a purported class of cable and satellite subscribers filed an antitrust action against us in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  The suit also names as defendants DirecTV, Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Inc., Time Warner Cable, NBC Universal, Viacom, Fox Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Company.  The suit alleges, among other things, that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to provide customers with access only to bundled channel offerings as opposed to giving customers the ability to purchase channels on an “a la carte” basis.  On October 16, 2009, the District Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice.  On June 3, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.  The plaintiff class sought rehearing en banc.  On October 31, 2011, the Ninth Circuit issued an order vacating the June 3, 2011 order, directing that a 3-judge panel be reconstituted, and denying the plaintiff class’ motion for rehearing.  We intend to vigorously defend this case.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Cyberfone Systems, LLC (f/k/a LVL Patent Group, LLC)

 

On September 15, 2011, LVL Patent Group, LLC filed a complaint against our wholly-owned subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., as well as EchoStar, EchoStar Technologies L.L.C., a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar, and DirecTV in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement of United States Patent No. 6,044,382, which is entitled “Data Transaction Assembly Server.”  On November 18, 2011, Cyberfone Systems, LLC (f/k/a LVL Patent Group, LLC) filed an amended complaint making the same claim.  DirecTV was dismissed from the case on January 4, 2012.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patent, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

ESPN

 

During 2008, we filed a lawsuit against ESPN, Inc., ESPN Classic, Inc., ABC Cable Networks Group, Soapnet L.L.C. and International Family Entertainment (collectively, “ESPN”) for breach of contract in New York State Supreme Court.  Our complaint alleges that ESPN failed to provide us with certain high-definition feeds of the

 

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Disney Channel, ESPN News, Toon and ABC Family.  In October 2011, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants.  We intend to appeal.

 

ESPN had asserted a counterclaim alleging that we owed approximately $35 million under the applicable affiliation agreements.  On April 15, 2009, the New York State Supreme Court granted, in part, ESPN’s motion for summary judgment on the counterclaim, finding that we are liable for some of the amount alleged to be owing but that the actual amount owing is disputed.  On December 29, 2010, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the partial grant of ESPN’s motion on the counterclaim.  After the partial grant of ESPN’s motion for summary judgment, ESPN sought an additional $30 million under the applicable affiliation agreements.  On March 15, 2010, the New York State Supreme Court affirmed the prior grant of ESPN’s motion and ruled that we owe the full amount of approximately $66 million under the applicable affiliation agreement.  As of December 31, 2010, we had $42 million recorded as a “Litigation accrual” on our Consolidated Balance Sheets.

 

On June 21, 2011, the First Department affirmed the New York Supreme Court’s ruling that we owe approximately $66 million under the applicable affiliation agreements and, on October 18, 2011, denied our motion for leave to appeal that decision to New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.  We sought leave to appeal directly to the New York Court of Appeals and, on January 10, 2012, the New York Court of Appeals dismissed our motion for leave on the ground that the ruling upon which we appealed does not fully resolve all claims in the action.  As a result of the First Department’s June 2011 ruling, during the year ended December 31, 2011, we recorded $24 million of “Litigation Expense” on our Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss) and increased our “Litigation accrual” to a total of $66 million as of December 31, 2011.  This reflects our estimated exposure for ESPN’s counterclaim.  On February 6, 2012, ESPN filed a motion seeking $5 million in attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party on both our claim and ESPN’s counterclaim, which we intend to oppose.  We intend to vigorously prosecute and defend this case.

 

Ganas, L.L.C.

 

During August 2010, Ganas, L.L.C. (“Ganas”) filed suit against DISH DBS Corporation, our indirect wholly owned subsidiary, Sabre Holdings Corporation, SAP America, Inc., SAS Institute Inc., Scottrade, Inc., TD Ameritrade, Inc., The Charles Schwab Corporation, TiVo Inc., Unicoi Systems Inc., Xerox Corporation, Adobe Systems Inc., AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Axibase Corporation, DirecTV, E*Trade Securities L.L.C., Exinda Networks, Fidelity Brokerage Services L.L.C., Firstrade Securities Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, iControl Inc., International Business Machines Corporation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of United States Patent Nos. 7,136,913, 7,325,053, and 7,734,756.  The patents relate to hypertext transfer protocol and simple object access protocol.  Ganas is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  On January 23, 2012, Ganas dismissed the case against us with prejudice pursuant to a settlement in which our contribution was not material.

 

InterAD Technologies, LLC

 

On September 16, 2011, InterAD Technologies, LLC (“InterAD”) filed a complaint against our wholly-owned subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., as well as EchoStar, EchoStar Technologies L.L.C., a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar, Atlantic Broadband Finance, LLC, AT&T, Inc., Bright House Networks, LLC, Cable One, Inc., Cequel Communications, LLC, Charter Communications Holding Company, LLC, Charter Communications, Inc., Comcast Corporation, Cox Communications, Inc., CSC Holdings, LLC, DirecTV, Inc., Insight Communications Company, Inc., Knology, Inc., Mediacom Broadband, LLC, RCN Telecom Services, LLC, Time Warner Cable, Inc., and Verizon, Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement of United States Patent No. 5,438,355, which is entitled “Interactive System for Processing Viewer Responses to Television Programming.”  On January 5, 2012, InterAD voluntarily dismissed the case against us without prejudice.

 

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Norman IP Holdings, Inc.

 

On September 15, 2011, Norman IP Holdings, Inc. (“Norman”) filed a patent infringement complaint against Brother International Corporation and Lexmark International Corporation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,592,555 (the “‘555 patent”)  and U.S. Patent No. 5,502,689 (the “‘689 patent”).  On December 9, 2011, Norman filed a first amended complaint that added Ricoh Americas Corporation and dropped Brother International Corporation as defendants.  On January 27, 2012, Norman filed a second amended complaint that added us as a defendant, in addition to adding Belkin International, Inc., BMW of North America LLC, Daimler North America Corporation, Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, D-Link Systems, Inc., Ford Motor Company, Garmin International, Inc., Garmin USA, Inc., General Electric Company, General Motors Company, JVC Americas Corporation, Novatel Wireless, Inc., Novatel Wireless Solutions, Inc., Novatel Wireless Technology, Inc., TomTom, Inc., ViewSonic Corporation, Vizio, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Xerox Corporation, ZTE USA, Inc., and ZTE Solutions, Inc.  The ‘555 patent relates to a wireless communications privacy method and system and the ‘689 patent relates to a clock generator capable of shut-down mode and clock generation method.  Norman is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe any of the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

NorthPoint Technology, Ltd.

 

On July 2, 2009, NorthPoint Technology, Ltd. (“Northpoint”) filed suit against us, EchoStar and DirecTV in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas alleging infringement of United States Patent No. 6,208,636 (the “‘636 patent”).  The ‘636 patent relates to the use of multiple low-noise block converter feedhorns, or LNBFs, which are antennas used for satellite reception.  On April 21, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued an order granting reexamination of the ‘636 patent.  On June 21, 2011, the District Court entered summary judgment in our favor, finding that all asserted claims of the ‘636 patent are invalid.  Northpoint has appealed.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patent, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Olympic Developments AG, LLC

 

On January 20, 2011, Olympic Developments AG, LLC (“Olympic”) filed suit against us, Atlantic Broadband, Inc., Bright House Networks, LLC, Cable One, Inc., Cequel Communications Holdings I, LLC, CSC Holdings, LLC, GCI Communication Corp., Insight Communications Company, Inc., Knology, Inc., Mediacom Communications Corporation and RCN Telecom Services, LLC in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging infringement of United States Patent Nos. 5,475,585 and 6,246,400.  The patents relate to on-demand services.  Olympic is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  On June 13, 2011, the case was transferred to the Northern District of California.  On November 4, 2011, the case was stayed pending reexamination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

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Personalized Media Communications, Inc.

 

During 2008, Personalized Media Communications, Inc. (“PMC”) filed suit against us, EchoStar and Motorola Inc. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of United States Patent Nos. 4,694,490, 5,109,414, 4,965,825, 5,233,654, 5,335,277, and 5,887,243, which relate to satellite signal processing.  PMC is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  Subsequently, Motorola Inc. settled with PMC leaving EchoStar and us as defendants.  Trial is currently set for August 2012.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe any of the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain user-friendly features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Preservation Technologies, LLC

 

In December 2011, Preservation Technologies, LLC filed suit against us in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,199,060, 6,581,070, 5,813,014, 6,092,080, 5,832,495, 5,832,499, 6,212,527, 6,574,638, 6,549,911, and 6,353,831.  The patents relate to digital libraries, the management of multimedia assets, and the cataloging of multimedia data, which are allegedly provided by our BLOCKBUSTER On Demand service.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Retailer Class Actions

 

During 2000, lawsuits were filed in Colorado state and federal courts attempting to certify nationwide classes on behalf of certain of our retailers.  The plaintiffs requested that the Courts declare certain provisions of, and changes to, alleged agreements between us and the retailers invalid and unenforceable, and to award damages for lost incentives and payments, charge backs and other compensation.  On September 20, 2010, we agreed to a settlement of both lawsuits that provides, among other things, for mutual releases of the claims underlying the litigation, payment by us of up to $60 million, and the option for certain class members to elect to reinstate certain monthly incentive payments, which the parties agreed have an aggregate maximum value of $23 million.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty how many class members will elect to reinstate these monthly incentive payments.  As a result, a $60 million “Litigation accrual” was recorded as of December 31, 2010 on our Consolidated Balance Sheets.  On February 9, 2011, the court granted final approval of the settlement, and we made a $60 million settlement payment on April 28, 2011.

 

Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P.

 

During 2007, Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P. (“Katz”) filed a patent infringement action against us in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  The suit alleges infringement of 19 patents owned by Katz.  The patents relate to interactive voice response, or IVR, technology.  The case has been transferred and consolidated for pretrial purposes in the United States District Court for the Central District of California by order of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.  Only four patents remain in the case against us, one of which is subject to a reexamination request before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which was filed on February 13, 2012.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe any of the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages and/or an injunction

 

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that could require us to materially modify certain user-friendly features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Suomen Colorize Oy

 

During October 2010, Suomen Colorize Oy (“Suomen”) filed suit against DISH Network L.L.C., our indirect wholly owned subsidiary, and EchoStar in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging infringement of United States Patent No. 7,277,398.  The abstract of the patent states that the claims are directed to a method and terminal for providing services in a telecommunications network.  Suomen is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  The action was transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, and on January 10, 2012, Suomen voluntarily dismissed the case against us without prejudice.

 

Technology Development and Licensing L.L.C.

 

On January 22, 2009, Technology Development and Licensing L.L.C. (“TDL”) filed suit against us and EchoStar in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging infringement of United States Patent No. Re. 35,952, which relates to certain favorite channel features.  TDL is an entity that seeks to license an acquired patent portfolio without itself practicing any of the claims recited therein.  In July 2009, the Court granted our motion to stay the case pending two reexamination petitions before the Patent and Trademark Office.

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patent, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain user-friendly features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

TiVo Inc.

 

In connection with our litigation with TiVo Inc. (“TiVo”), which is described in our periodic reports filed with the SEC, including in our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 under the caption “Item 3.  Legal Proceedings — TiVo Inc.,” on April 20, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the District Court’s contempt ruling on infringement, articulated a new standard for determining “colorable difference” and remanded that issue back to the District Court for determination.  The Federal Circuit also vacated the District Court’s amended injunction requiring that we inform the court of any further attempts to design around TiVo’s United States Patent No. 6,233,389 (the ‘389 patent) and seek approval from the court before any such design-around is implemented.  The Federal Circuit also vacated the infringement damages for the period after we deployed our original alternative technology (although it did not foreclose that damages may be reinstated if upon remand a new court or jury decision found that the original alternative technology infringed TiVo’s ‘389 patent).  The Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court’s contempt ruling on disablement, holding that the original 2006 injunction required that we disable DVR functionality in all but approximately 192,000 digital set-top boxes deployed with customers (the “Disablement Provision”) and affirmed the $90 million in contempt sanctions awarded against us for violating the Disablement Provision.

 

On April 29, 2011, we and EchoStar entered into a settlement agreement with TiVo.  The settlement resolves all pending litigation between us and EchoStar, on the one hand, and TiVo, on the other hand, including litigation relating to alleged patent infringement involving certain DISH digital video recorders, or DVRs, which litigation is described in our periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission including in our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 under the caption “Item 3.  Legal Proceedings — TiVo Inc.”

 

Under the settlement agreement, all pending litigation has been dismissed with prejudice and all injunctions that permanently restrain, enjoin or compel any action by us or EchoStar have been dissolved.  We and EchoStar are jointly responsible for making payments to TiVo in the aggregate amount of $500 million, including an initial payment of $300 million and the remaining $200 million in six equal annual installments between 2012 and 2017.  Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the agreements entered into in connection with the Spin-off of EchoStar

 

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from us, we made the initial payment to TiVo in May 2011, except for a contribution from EchoStar totaling approximately $10 million, representing an allocation of liability relating to EchoStar’s sales of DVR-enabled receivers to an international customer.  Future payments will be allocated between us and EchoStar based on historical sales of certain licensed products, with us being responsible for 95% of each annual payment.

 

As previously disclosed, our total litigation accrual for TiVo was $517 million as of December 31, 2010.  As a result of the settlement agreement, we reversed $335 million of this accrual and made a payment of approximately $290 million for our portion of the initial payment to TiVo.  Of this amount, approximately $182 million relates to prior periods and the remaining $108 million represents a prepayment.  Our $108 million prepayment and our $190 million share of the remaining payments, a total of $298 million, will be expensed ratably as a subscriber-related expense from April 1, 2011 through July 31, 2018, the expiration date of the ‘389 patent.  In connection with our TiVo settlement, TiVo agreed to advertise and market certain of our products and services.  As a result, $6 million was recognized as a reduction of litigation expense and we recorded a pre-paid marketing asset on our Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss) and our Consolidated Balance Sheets, respectively.  The amount of the pre-paid license agreement is being amortized as costs of sales over the six-year term of the agreement.

 

In addition, under the settlement agreement, TiVo granted us a license under its ‘389 patent and certain related patents, for the remaining life of those patents, with respect to DISH-branded and co-branded products and services.

 

We and EchoStar, on the one hand, and TiVo, on the other hand, have also agreed on mutual releases of certain related claims and agreed not to challenge each other’s DVR technology-related patents that are licensed under the settlement agreement.

 

Because both we and EchoStar were defendants in the TiVo lawsuit, we and EchoStar were jointly and severally liable to TiVo for any final damages and sanctions that could have been awarded by the District Court.  As previously disclosed, we determined that we were obligated under the agreements entered into in connection with the Spin-off to indemnify EchoStar for substantially all liability arising from this lawsuit.  EchoStar contributed an amount equal to its $5 million intellectual property liability limit under the receiver agreement.  We and EchoStar further agreed that EchoStar’s $5 million contribution would not exhaust EchoStar’s liability to us for other intellectual property claims that may arise under the receiver agreement.  We and EchoStar also agreed that we would each be entitled to joint ownership of, and a cross-license to use, any intellectual property developed in connection with any potential new alternative technology.  Any amounts that EchoStar is responsible for under the settlement agreement with TiVo are in addition to the $5 million contribution previously made by EchoStar.

 

Vigilos, LLC

 

On February 23, 2011, Vigilos, LLC filed suit against EchoStar, two EchoStar subsidiaries, Sling Media, Inc. and EchoStar Technologies L.L.C., and Monsoon Multimedia, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,839,731, which is entitled “System and Method for Providing Data Communication in a Device Network.”  Subsequently in 2011, Vigilos added DISH Network L.L.C., our indirect wholly owned subsidiary, as a defendant in its First Amended Complaint and the case was transferred to the Northern District of California.  Later in 2011, Vigilos filed a Second Amended Complaint that added claims for infringement of a second patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,370,074, which is entitled “System and Method for Implementing Open-Protocol Remote Device Control.”

 

We intend to vigorously defend this case.  In the event that a court ultimately determines that we infringe the asserted patents, we may be subject to substantial damages, which may include treble damages, and/or an injunction that could require us to materially modify certain features that we currently offer to consumers.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Voom

 

In January 2008, Voom filed a lawsuit against us in New York Supreme Court, alleging breach of contract and other claims arising from our termination of the affiliation agreement governing carriage of certain Voom HD channels on the DISH pay-TV service.  At that time, Voom also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent us from

 

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terminating the agreement.  The Court denied Voom’s request, finding, among other things, that Voom had not demonstrated that it was likely to prevail on the merits.  In April 2010, we and Voom each filed motions for summary judgment.  Voom later filed two motions seeking discovery sanctions.  On November 9, 2010, the Court issued a decision denying both motions for summary judgment, but granting Voom’s motions for discovery sanctions.  The Court’s decision provides for an adverse inference jury instruction at trial and precludes our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We appealed the grant of Voom’s motion for discovery sanctions to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.  On February 15, 2011, the appellate court granted our motion to stay the trial pending our appeal.  On January 31, 2012, the appellate court affirmed the order imposing discovery sanctions and precluding our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We are seeking leave to appeal to New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals.  A trial date has not been set.  Voom is claiming over $2.5 billion in damages.  We intend to vigorously defend this case.  We cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of the suit or determine the extent of any potential liability or damages.

 

Other

 

In addition to the above actions, we are subject to various other legal proceedings and claims which arise in the ordinary course of business, including, among other things, disputes with programmers regarding fees.  In our opinion, the amount of ultimate liability with respect to any of these actions is unlikely to materially affect our financial position, results of operations or liquidity, though the outcomes could be material to our operating results for any particular period, depending, in part, upon the operating results for such period.

 

Item 4.                     MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

 

Not applicable.

 

PART II

 

Item 5.                     MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

Market Price of and Dividends on the Registrant’s Common Equity and Related Stockholder Matters

 

Market Information.  Our Class A common stock is quoted on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “DISH.”  The high and low closing sale prices of our Class A common stock during 2011 and 2010 on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (as reported by Nasdaq) are set forth below.  The sales prices of our Class A common stock reported below are not adjusted to reflect the dividend paid on December 1, 2011, discussed below.

 

2011

 

High

 

Low

 

First Quarter

 

$

24.40

 

$

19.56

 

Second Quarter

 

30.67

 

23.10

 

Third Quarter

 

32.01

 

21.37

 

Fourth Quarter

 

29.00

 

23.27

 

 

2010

 

High

 

Low

 

First Quarter

 

$

21.80

 

$

17.75

 

Second Quarter

 

23.15

 

18.15

 

Third Quarter

 

20.84

 

17.44

 

Fourth Quarter

 

20.81

 

17.97

 

 

As of February 14, 2012, there were approximately 10,478 holders of record of our Class A common stock, not including stockholders who beneficially own Class A common stock held in nominee or street name.  As of February 14, 2012, 234,190,057 of the 238,435,208 outstanding shares of our Class B common stock were held by Charles W. Ergen, our Chairman, and the remaining 4,245,151 were held in trusts established by Mr. Ergen for the benefit of his family.  There is currently no trading market for our Class B common stock.

 

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Dividends.  On December 1, 2011, we paid a cash dividend of $2.00 per share, or approximately $893 million, on our outstanding Class A and Class B common stock to stockholders of record at the close of business on November 17, 2011.

 

While we currently do not intend to declare additional dividends on our common stock, we may elect to do so from time to time.  Payment of any future dividends will depend upon our earnings and capital requirements, restrictions in our debt facilities, and other factors the Board of Directors considers appropriate.  We currently intend to retain our earnings, if any, to support future growth and expansion although we expect to repurchase shares of our common stock from time to time.  See further discussion under “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans.  See “Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

 

The following table provides information regarding purchases of our Class A common stock made by us for the period from October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.

 

Period

 

Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased

 

Average
Price Paid
per Share

 

Total Number of
Shares Purchased
as Part of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs

 

Maximum Approximate
Dollar Value of Shares
that May Yet be
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs (1)

 

 

 

(In thousands, except share data)

 

October 1, 2011 - October 31, 2011

 

 

$

 

 

$

999,604

 

November 1, 2011 - November 30, 2011

 

 

$

 

 

$

1,000,000

 

December 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

 

 

$

 

 

$

1,000,000

 

Total

 

 

$

 

 

$

1,000,000

 

 


(1)

Our Board of Directors previously authorized the repurchase of up to $1.0 billion of our Class A common stock. On November 1, 2011, our Board of Directors extended the plan and authorized an increase in the maximum dollar value of shares that may be repurchased under the plan, such that we are currently authorized to repurchase up to $1.0 billion of our outstanding shares of our Class A common stock through and including December 31, 2012. Purchases under our repurchase program may be made through open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, or Rule 10b5-1 trading plans, subject to market conditions and other factors. We may elect not to purchase the maximum amount of shares allowable under this program and we may also enter into additional share repurchase programs authorized by our Board of Directors.

 

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Item 6.    SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

 

The selected consolidated financial data as of and for each of the five years ended December 31, 2011 have been derived from, and are qualified by reference to our Consolidated Financial Statements.  Certain prior year amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current year presentation.  See further discussion under “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Explanation of Key Metrics and Other Items” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  This data should be read in conjunction with our Consolidated Financial Statements and related Notes thereto for the three years ended December 31, 2011, and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this report.

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

Balance Sheet Data

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

Cash, cash equivalents and current marketable investment securities

 

$

2,040,853

 

$

2,940,377

 

$

2,139,336

 

$

559,132

 

$

2,788,196

 

Total assets

 

11,470,231

 

9,632,153

 

8,295,343

 

6,460,047

 

10,086,529

 

Long-term debt and capital lease obligations (including current portion)

 

7,493,779

 

6,514,936

 

6,496,564

 

5,007,756

 

6,125,704

 

Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)

 

(419,003

)

(1,133,443

)

(2,091,688

)

(1,949,106

)

639,989

 

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

Statements of Operations Data

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

 

 

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

 

Total revenue

 

$

14,048,393

 

$

12,640,744

 

$

11,664,151

 

$

11,617,187

 

$

11,090,375

 

Total costs and expenses

 

11,120,439

 

10,699,916

 

10,277,221

 

9,561,007

 

9,516,971

 

Operating income (loss)

 

$

2,927,954

 

$

1,940,828

 

$

1,386,930

 

$

2,056,180

 

$

1,573,404

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network

 

$

1,515,907

 

$

984,729

 

$

635,545

 

$

902,947

 

$

756,054

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic net income (loss) per share attributable to DISH Network

 

$

3.40

 

$

2.21

 

$

1.42

 

$

2.01

 

$

1.69

 

Diluted net income (loss) per share attributable to DISH Network

 

$

3.39

 

$

2.20

 

$

1.42

 

$

1.98

 

$

1.68

 

Cash dividend per common share

 

$

2.00

 

$

 

$

2.00

 

$

 

$

 

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

Other Data (Unaudited except for net cash flows)

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

DISH Network subscribers, as of period end (in millions)

 

13.967

 

14.133

 

14.100

 

13.678

 

13.780

 

DISH Network subscriber additions, gross (in millions)

 

2.576

 

3.052

 

3.118

 

2.966

 

3.434

 

DISH Network subscriber additions, net (in millions)

 

(0.166

)

0.033

 

0.422

 

(0.102

)

0.675

 

Average monthly subscriber churn rate

 

1.63

%

1.76

%

1.64

%

1.86

%

1.70

%

Average monthly revenue per subscriber (“ARPU”)

 

$

76.93

 

$

73.32

 

$

70.04

 

$

69.27

 

$

65.83

 

Average subscriber acquisition cost per subscriber (“SAC”)

 

$

771

 

$

776

 

$

697

 

$

720

 

$

656

 

Net cash flows from (in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

 

$

2,573,878

 

$

2,139,802

 

$

2,194,543

 

$

2,188,344

 

$

2,616,720

 

Investing activities

 

$

(2,695,328

)

$

(1,477,521

)

$

(2,605,556

)

$

(1,597,471

)

$

(2,470,832

)

Financing activities

 

$

93,997

 

$

(127,453

)

$

418,283

 

$

(1,411,841

)

$

(976,016

)

 

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Item 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with the audited consolidated financial statements and notes to our financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.  This management’s discussion and analysis is intended to help provide an understanding of our financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of our operations and contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties.  The forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about our industry, business and future financial results.  Our actual results could differ materially from the results contemplated by these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed in this report, including under the caption “Item 1A.  Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Overview

 

DISH lost approximately 166,000 net subscribers during the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to a gain of approximately 33,000 net new subscribers during the same period in 2010.  The change versus the prior year primarily resulted from a decline in gross new subscriber activations.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, DISH added approximately 2.576 million gross new subscribers compared to approximately 3.052 million gross new subscribers during the same period in 2010, a decrease of 15.6%.

 

Our gross activations and net subscriber additions were negatively impacted during the year ended December 31, 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 as a result of increased competitive pressures, including aggressive marketing and the effectiveness of certain competitors’ promotional offers, which included an increased level of programming discounts.  In addition, telecommunications companies continue to grow their respective customer bases.  Our gross activations and net subscriber additions continue to be adversely affected during the year ended December 31, 2011 by sustained economic weakness and uncertainty, including, among other things, the weak housing market in the United States combined with lower discretionary spending.

 

Our average monthly subscriber churn rate for the year ended December 31, 2011 was 1.63%, compared to 1.76% for the same period in 2010.  While churn improved compared to the same period in 2010, churn continues to be adversely affected by the increased competitive pressures discussed above.  In general, our churn rate is impacted by the quality of subscribers acquired in past quarters, our ability to provide outstanding customer service, and our ability to control piracy.

 

“Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network” for the year ended December 31, 2011 was $1.516 billion compared to $985 million for the same period in 2010.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, “Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network” improved primarily due to a reduction in our accrued expenses related to the TiVo Inc. settlement, price increases during the past year and less costs associated with fewer gross new subscriber activations.

 

Programming costs represent a large percentage of our “Subscriber-related expenses.”  Going forward, our margins may face pressure if we are unable to renew our long-term programming contracts on favorable pricing and other economic terms.  Additionally, our gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn rate may be negatively impacted if we are unable to renew our long-term programming contracts before they expire.

 

As the pay-TV industry matures, we and our competitors increasingly must seek to attract a greater proportion of new subscribers from each other’s existing subscriber bases rather than from first-time purchasers of pay-TV services.  Some of our competitors have been especially aggressive by offering discounted programming and services for both new and existing subscribers.  In addition, programming offered over the Internet has become more prevalent as the speed and quality of broadband networks have improved.  Significant changes in consumer behavior with regard to the means by which they obtain video entertainment and information in response to digital media competition could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition or otherwise disrupt our business.

 

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While economic factors have impacted the entire pay-TV industry, our relative performance has also been driven by issues specific to DISH.  In the past, our subscriber growth has been adversely affected by signal theft and other forms of fraud and by operational inefficiencies at DISH.  To combat signal theft and improve the security of our broadcast system, we completed the replacement of our security access devices to re-secure our system during 2009.  We expect that additional future replacements of these devices will be necessary to keep our system secure.  To combat other forms of fraud, we continue to expect that our third party distributors and retailers will adhere to our business rules.

 

While we have made improvements in responding to and dealing with customer service issues, we continue to focus on the prevention of these issues, which is critical to our business, financial position and results of operations.  To improve our operational performance, we continue to make significant investments in staffing, training, information systems, and other initiatives, primarily in our call center and in-home service operations.  These investments are intended to help combat inefficiencies introduced by the increasing complexity of our business, improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, increase productivity, and allow us to scale better over the long run.  We cannot, however, be certain that our spending will ultimately be successful in improving our operational performance.

 

We have been deploying receivers that utilize 8PSK modulation technology and receivers that utilize MPEG-4 compression technology for several years.  These technologies, when fully deployed, will allow more programming channels to be carried over our existing satellites.  Many of our customers today, however, do not have receivers that use MPEG-4 compression and a smaller but still significant percentage do not have receivers that use 8PSK modulation.  We may choose to invest significant capital to accelerate the conversion of customers to MPEG-4 and/or 8PSK to realize the bandwidth benefits sooner.  In addition, given that all of our HD content is broadcast in MPEG-4, any growth in HD penetration will naturally accelerate our transition to these newer technologies and may increase our subscriber acquisition and retention costs.  All new receivers that we purchase from EchoStar have MPEG-4 technology.  Although we continue to refurbish and redeploy MPEG-2 receivers, as a result of our HD initiatives and current promotions, we currently activate most new customers with higher priced MPEG-4 technology.  This limits our ability to redeploy MPEG-2 receivers and, to the extent that our promotions are successful, will accelerate the transition to MPEG-4 technology, resulting in an adverse effect on our average subscriber acquisition costs per new subscriber activation (“SAC”).

 

From time to time, we change equipment for certain subscribers to make more efficient use of transponder capacity in support of HD and other initiatives.  We believe that the benefit from the increase in available transponder capacity outweighs the short-term cost of these equipment changes.

 

To maintain and enhance our competitiveness over the long term, we recently introduced the Hopper that allows, among other things, recorded programming to be viewed in HD in multiple rooms.  We are also promoting a suite of integrated products designed to maximize the convenience and ease of watching TV anytime and anywhere, which we refer to as TV Everywhere which utilizes, among other things, online access and Slingbox “placeshifting” technology.  There can be no assurance that these integrated products will positively affect our results of operations or our gross new subscriber activations.

 

Blockbuster

 

On April 26, 2011, we completed the Blockbuster Acquisition.  We acquired Blockbuster operations in the United States and in certain foreign countries.  Our winning bid in the bankruptcy court auction was valued at $321 million.  We paid $238 million, including $226 million in cash and $12 million in certain assumed liabilities.  Of the $226 million paid in cash, $20 million was placed in escrow.  Subsequent to this payment, we received a $4 million refund from escrow, resulting in a net purchase price of $234 million.  This transaction was accounted for as a business combination and therefore the purchase price was allocated to the assets acquired based on their estimated fair value.  Since the purchase prices of future inventory are expected to be higher than the fair value of the inventory acquired, our cost of sales as a percentage of revenue will be higher in the future.

 

Blockbuster primarily offers movies and video games for sale and rental through multiple distribution channels such as retail stores, by-mail, digital devices, the blockbuster.com website and the BLOCKBUSTER On Demand service.  The Blockbuster Acquisition complements our core business of delivering high-quality video entertainment to

 

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consumers.  We are promoting our new Blockbuster offerings including Blockbuster@Home which provides movies, games and TV shows through Internet streaming, mail and in-store exchanges and online.  This offering is only available to DISH subscribers.

 

From the acquisition date of April 26, 2011 through December 31, 2011, Blockbuster operations contributed $975 million in revenue and $4 million in net income to our consolidated results of operations.  As of December 31, 2011, Blockbuster operated over 1,500 retail stores in the United States.  We expect to close over 500 domestic stores during the first half of 2012 as a result of weak store-level financial performance.  Over 900 of our retail store leases, including the leases for the majority of the stores we expect to close, include favorable early termination rights for us.  We continue to evaluate the impact of certain factors, including, among other things, competitive pressures, the scale of our Blockbuster retail operations and other issues impacting the store-level financial performance of our Blockbuster retail stores.  These factors, or other reasons, could lead us to close additional Blockbuster retail stores.

 

The following discussion and analysis of our consolidated results of operations, financial condition and liquidity are presented on a historical basis.  Our Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss) for the year ended December 31, 2011 includes the results of operations for Blockbuster from the acquisition date of April 26, 2011 to December 31, 2011.  Therefore, our results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2011 are not comparable to our results of operations for the same periods in 2010 and 2009.

 

Operational Liquidity

 

Like many companies, we make general investments in property such as satellites, set-top boxes, information technology and facilities that support our overall business.  As a subscriber-based company, however, we also make subscriber-specific investments to acquire new subscribers and retain existing subscribers.  While the general investments may be deferred without impacting the business in the short-term, the subscriber-specific investments are less discretionary.  Our overall objective is to generate sufficient cash flow over the life of each subscriber to provide an adequate return against the upfront investment.  Once the upfront investment has been made for each subscriber, the subsequent cash flow is generally positive.

 

There are a number of factors that impact our future cash flow compared to the cash flow we generate at a given point in time.  The first factor is how successful we are at retaining our current subscribers.  As we lose subscribers from our existing base, the positive cash flow from that base is correspondingly reduced.  The second factor is how successful we are at maintaining our subscriber-related margins.  To the extent our “Subscriber-related expenses” grow faster than our “Subscriber-related revenue,” the amount of cash flow that is generated per existing subscriber is reduced.  The third factor is the rate at which we acquire new subscribers.  The faster we acquire new subscribers, the more our positive ongoing cash flow from existing subscribers is offset by the negative upfront cash flow associated with new subscribers.  Finally, our future cash flow is impacted by the rate at which we make general investments and any cash flow from financing activities.

 

Our subscriber-specific investments to acquire new subscribers have a significant impact on our cash flow.  While fewer subscribers might translate into lower ongoing cash flow in the long-term, cash flow is actually aided, in the short-term, by the reduction in subscriber-specific investment spending.  As a result, a slow down in our business due to external or internal factors does not introduce the same level of short-term liquidity risk as it might in other industries.

 

Availability of Credit and Effect on Liquidity

 

The ability to raise capital has generally existed for DISH Network despite the weak economic conditions.  Modest fluctuations in the cost of capital will not likely impact our current operational plans.

 

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Future Liquidity

 

Spectrum Investments

 

In 2008, we paid $712 million to acquire certain 700 MHz wireless licenses, which were granted to us by the FCC in February 2009.  Part or all of these licenses may be terminated if the associated FCC build-out requirements are not satisfied.

 

During the first half of 2011, we entered into a transaction to acquire 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America for approximately $1.4 billion upon DBSD North America’s emergence from bankruptcy, which included capital stock and convertible securities of, and certain claims related to, DBSD North America.  In addition, in June 2011, we entered into the TerreStar Transaction for a purchase price of $1.375 billion. We have paid all but $30 million of the purchase price for the TerreStar Transaction, which will be paid upon closing of the TerreStar Transaction, or upon certain other conditions being met under the asset purchase agreement.  Additionally, during the fourth quarter 2011, we and Sprint entered into the Sprint Settlement Agreement pursuant to which all disputed issues relating to our acquisition of DBSD North America and the TerreStar Transaction were resolved between us and Sprint, including, but not limited to, issues relating to costs allegedly incurred by Sprint to relocate users from the spectrum now licensed to DBSD North America and TerreStar.  Pursuant to the Sprint Settlement Agreement, we made a net payment of approximately $114 million to Sprint.  Our ultimate acquisition of 100% of the equity of reorganized DBSD North America and consummation of the TerreStar Transaction are subject to certain conditions, including approval by the FCC.

 

Under our agreements to acquire DBSD North America and purchase TerreStar’s assets, we paid substantially all of the purchase price for both transactions prior to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals (the FCC with respect to DBSD North America, and the FCC and Industry Canada with respect to TerreStar).  On February 7, 2012, Industry Canada approved the transfer of the Canadian spectrum licenses held by TerreStar to us.  If the remaining required approvals are not obtained, subject to certain exceptions, we have the right to require and direct the sale of some or all of the assets of the relevant company to a third party and we would be entitled to the proceeds from such a sale.  These proceeds could, however, be substantially less than amounts we have paid in the respective transactions.

 

In addition, our consolidated FCC applications for approval of the license transfers from DBSD North America and TerreStar were accompanied by requests for waiver of the integrated service requirement, the spare satellite requirement and various technical provisions.  Waiver of the integrated service requirement would allow DISH to offer single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who do not desire satellite functionality.  The spectrum licenses currently held by DBSD North America and TerreStar do not include a waiver of this integrated service requirement.  Our integrated service requirement waiver request has been opposed by certain parties, and there can be no assurance that the FCC will approve it.  If our FCC applications and waiver requests are not granted by the FCC, or are granted in a manner that varies from the form we have requested, it could cause the value of these assets to be impaired, potentially requiring us to take significant write-downs on these assets.  We assess potential impairments to these assets annually, or more often if indicators of impairment arise, to determine whether an impairment condition may exist.  We use a probability weighted analysis considering estimated future cash flows discounted at a rate commensurate with the risk involved and market based data to assess potential impairments.

 

To the extent we receive these approvals and waivers, there can be no assurance that we will be able to develop and implement a business model that will realize a return on these spectrum investments or that we will be able to profitably deploy the assets represented by these spectrum investments.  We will likely be required to make significant additional investments or partner with others to commercialize these licenses.  Because we have not received approval from the FCC, we do not yet know the full costs (including any build-out requirements) associated with complying with regulations applicable to our acquisition of DBSD North America or the TerreStar Transaction.  Depending on the nature and scope of such commercialization and build-out, any such investment or partnership could vary significantly, which may affect the carrying value of our investments and our future financial condition or results of operations.

 

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Voom

 

If Voom prevails in its breach of contract suit against us, we could be required to pay substantial damages, which would have a material adverse affect on our financial position and results of operations.  In January 2008, Voom HD Holdings (“Voom”) filed a lawsuit against us in New York Supreme Court, alleging breach of contract and other claims arising from our termination of the affiliation agreement governing carriage of certain Voom HD channels on the DISH pay-TV service.  At that time, Voom also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent us from terminating the agreement.  The Court denied Voom’s request, finding, among other things, that Voom had not demonstrated that it was likely to prevail on the merits.  In April 2010, we and Voom each filed motions for summary judgment.  Voom later filed two motions seeking discovery sanctions.  On November 9, 2010, the Court issued a decision denying both motions for summary judgment, but granting Voom’s motions for discovery sanctions.  The Court’s decision provides for an adverse inference jury instruction at trial and precludes our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We appealed the grant of Voom’s motion for discovery sanctions to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.  On February 15, 2011, the appellate court granted our motion to stay the trial pending our appeal.  On January 31, 2012, the appellate court affirmed the order imposing discovery sanctions and precluding our damages expert from testifying at trial.  We are seeking leave to appeal to New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals.  A trial date has not been set.  Voom is claiming over $2.5 billion in damages.

 

EXPLANATION OF KEY METRICS AND OTHER ITEMS

 

Subscriber-related revenue.  “Subscriber-related revenue” consists principally of revenue from basic, premium movie, local, HD programming, pay-per-view, Latino and international subscription television services, equipment rental fees and other hardware related fees, including fees for DVRs, equipment upgrade fees and additional outlet fees from subscribers with receivers with multiple tuners, advertising services, fees earned from our in-home service operations and other subscriber revenue.  Certain of the amounts included in “Subscriber-related revenue” are not recurring on a monthly basis.

 

Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue.  “Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue” principally includes the non-subsidized sales of DBS accessories to retailers and other third-party distributors of our equipment domestically and to DISH subscribers.  Effective April 26, 2011, revenue from merchandise sold to customers including movies, video games and other accessories, and revenue from the rental of movies and video games and the sale of previously rented titles related to our Blockbuster operations are included in this category.

 

Equipment sales, services and other revenue — EchoStar.  “Equipment sales, services and other revenue — EchoStar” includes revenue related to equipment sales, services, and other agreements with EchoStar.

 

Subscriber-related expenses.  “Subscriber-related expenses” principally include programming expenses, which represent a substantial majority of these expenses.  “Subscriber-related expenses” also include costs incurred in connection with our in-home service and call center operations, billing costs, refurbishment and repair costs related to receiver systems, subscriber retention and other variable subscriber expenses.

 

Satellite and transmission expenses — EchoStar.  “Satellite and transmission expenses — EchoStar” includes the cost of leasing satellite and transponder capacity from EchoStar and the cost of digital broadcast operations provided to us by EchoStar, including satellite uplinking/downlinking, signal processing, conditional access management, telemetry, tracking and control, and other professional services.

 

Satellite and transmission expenses — other.  “Satellite and transmission expenses — other” includes executory costs associated with capital leases and costs associated with transponder leases and other related services.

 

Cost of sales - equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other.  “Cost of sales - equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other” principally includes the cost of non-subsidized sales of DBS accessories to retailers and other third-party distributors of our equipment domestically and to DISH subscribers.  Effective April 26, 2011, the cost of movies and video games including rental title purchases or revenue sharing to studios, packaging and online delivery costs and cost of merchandise sold including movies, video games and other accessories related to our

 

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Blockbuster operations are included in this category.  In addition, “Cost of sales - equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other” includes costs related to equipment sales, services, and other agreements with EchoStar.

 

Subscriber acquisition costs.  In addition to leasing receivers, we generally subsidize installation and all or a portion of the cost of our receiver systems to attract new DISH subscribers.  Our “Subscriber acquisition costs” include the cost of sales of receiver systems to retailers and other third-party distributors of our equipment, the cost of sales of receiver systems directly by us to subscribers, including net costs related to our promotional incentives, costs related to our direct sales efforts and costs related to installation and acquisition advertising.  We exclude the value of equipment capitalized under our lease program for new subscribers from “Subscriber acquisition costs.”

 

SAC.  Subscriber acquisition cost measures are commonly used by those evaluating companies in the pay-TV industry.  We are not aware of any uniform standards for calculating the “average subscriber acquisition costs per new subscriber activation,” or SAC, and we believe presentations of SAC may not be calculated consistently by different companies in the same or similar businesses.  Our SAC is calculated as “Subscriber acquisition costs,” plus the value of equipment capitalized under our lease program for new subscribers, divided by gross new subscriber activations.  We include all the costs of acquiring subscribers (e.g., subsidized and capitalized equipment) as we believe it is a more comprehensive measure of how much we are spending to acquire subscribers.  We also include all new DISH subscribers in our calculation, including DISH subscribers added with little or no subscriber acquisition costs.

 

General and administrative expenses.  “General and administrative expenses” consists primarily of employee-related costs associated with administrative services such as legal, information systems, accounting and finance, including non-cash, stock-based compensation expense.  It also includes outside professional fees (e.g., legal, information systems and accounting services) and other items associated with facilities and administration.

 

Litigation expense.  “Litigation expense” primarily consists of legal settlements, judgments or accruals associated with certain significant litigation.

 

Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized.  “Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized” primarily includes interest expense, prepayment premiums and amortization of debt issuance costs associated with our senior debt (net of capitalized interest), and interest expense associated with our capital lease obligations.

 

Other, net.  The main components of “Other, net” are gains and losses realized on the sale of investments, impairment of marketable and non-marketable investment securities, unrealized gains and losses from changes in fair value of marketable and non-marketable strategic investments accounted for at fair value, and equity in earnings and losses of our affiliates.

 

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”).  EBITDA is defined as “Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network” plus “Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized” net of “Interest income,” “Taxes” and “Depreciation and amortization.”  This “non-GAAP measure” is reconciled to “Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network” in our discussion of “Results of Operations” below.

 

DISH subscribers.  We include customers obtained through direct sales, third-party retailers and other third-party distribution relationships in our DISH subscriber count.  We also provide DISH service to hotels, motels and other commercial accounts.  For certain of these commercial accounts, we divide our total revenue for these commercial accounts by an amount approximately equal to the retail price of our DISH America programming package, and include the resulting number, which is substantially smaller than the actual number of commercial units served, in our DISH subscriber count.  Effective during the first quarter 2011, we made two changes to this calculation methodology compared to prior periods.  Beginning February 1, 2011, the retail price of our DISH America programming package was used in the calculation rather than America’s Top 120 programming package, which had been used in prior periods.  We also determined that two of our commercial business lines, which had previously been included in the described calculation, could be more accurately reflected through actual subscriber counts.  The net impact of these two changes was to increase our subscriber count by approximately 6,000 subscribers in the first quarter 2011.  Prior period DISH subscriber counts have not been adjusted for this revised commercial accounts calculation as the impacts were immaterial.

 

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Average monthly revenue per subscriber.  We are not aware of any uniform standards for calculating ARPU and believe presentations of ARPU may not be calculated consistently by other companies in the same or similar businesses.  We calculate average monthly revenue per subscriber, or ARPU, by dividing average monthly “Subscriber-related revenue” for the period (total “Subscriber-related revenue” during the period divided by the number of months in the period) by our average number of DISH subscribers for the period.  The average number of DISH subscribers is calculated for the period by adding the average number of DISH subscribers for each month and dividing by the number of months in the period.  The average number of DISH subscribers for each month is calculated by adding the beginning and ending DISH subscribers for the month and dividing by two.

 

Average monthly subscriber churn rate.  We are not aware of any uniform standards for calculating subscriber churn rate and believe presentations of subscriber churn rates may not be calculated consistently by different companies in the same or similar businesses.  We calculate subscriber churn rate for any period by dividing the number of DISH subscribers who terminated service during the period by the average number of DISH subscribers for the same period, and further dividing by the number of months in the period.  When calculating subscriber churn, the same methodology for calculating average number of DISH subscribers is used as when calculating ARPU.

 

Free cash flow.  We define free cash flow as “Net cash flows from operating activities” less “Purchases of property and equipment,” as shown on our Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows.

 

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RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

Year Ended December 31, 2011 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2010.

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

Variance

 

Statements of Operations Data

 

2011

 

2010

 

Amount

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscriber-related revenue

 

$

12,976,009

 

$

12,543,794

 

$

432,215

 

3.4

 

Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue

 

1,035,910

 

59,770

 

976,140

 

NM

 

Equipment sales, services and other revenue - EchoStar

 

36,474

 

37,180

 

(706

)

(1.9

)

Total revenue

 

14,048,393

 

12,640,744

 

1,407,649

 

11.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and Expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscriber-related expenses

 

6,845,611

 

6,676,145

 

169,466

 

2.5

 

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

52.8

%

53.2

%

 

 

 

 

Satellite and transmission expenses - EchoStar

 

441,541

 

418,358

 

23,183

 

5.5

 

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

3.4

%

3.3

%

 

 

 

 

Satellite and transmission expenses - Other

 

39,806

 

40,249

 

(443

)

(1.1

)

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

0.3

%

0.3

%

 

 

 

 

Cost of sales - equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other

 

448,686

 

76,406

 

372,280

 

NM

 

Subscriber acquisition costs

 

1,505,177

 

1,653,494

 

(148,317

)

(9.0

)

General and administrative expenses

 

1,234,494

 

625,843

 

608,651

 

97.3

 

% of Total revenue

 

8.8

%

5.0

%

 

 

 

 

Litigation expense

 

(316,949

)

225,456

 

(542,405

)

NM

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

922,073

 

983,965

 

(61,892

)

(6.3

)

Total costs and expenses

 

11,120,439

 

10,699,916

 

420,523

 

3.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating income (loss)

 

2,927,954

 

1,940,828

 

987,126

 

50.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Income (Expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

34,354

 

25,158

 

9,196

 

36.6

 

Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized

 

(557,910

)

(454,777

)

(103,133

)

(22.7

)

Other, net

 

6,186

 

30,996

 

(24,810

)

(80.0

)

Total other income (expense)

 

(517,370

)

(398,623

)

(118,747

)

(29.8

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) before income taxes

 

2,410,584

 

1,542,205

 

868,379

 

56.3

 

Income tax (provision) benefit, net

 

(895,006

)

(557,473

)

(337,533

)

(60.5

)

Effective tax rate

 

37.1

%

36.1

%

 

 

 

 

Net income (loss)

 

1,515,578

 

984,732

 

530,846

 

53.9

 

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interest

 

(329

)

3

 

(332

)

NM

 

Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network

 

$

1,515,907

 

$

984,729

 

$

531,178

 

53.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISH Network subscribers, as of period end (in millions)

 

13.967

 

14.133

 

(0.166

)

(1.2

)

DISH Network subscriber additions, gross (in millions)

 

2.576

 

3.052

 

(0.476

)

(15.6

)

DISH Network subscriber additions, net (in millions)

 

(0.166

)

0.033

 

(0.199

)

NM

 

Average monthly subscriber churn rate

 

1.63

%

1.76

%

(0.13

)%

(7.4

)

Average monthly revenue per subscriber (“ARPU”)

 

$

76.93

 

$

73.32

 

$

3.61

 

4.9

 

Average subscriber acquisition cost per subscriber (“SAC”)

 

$

771

 

$

776

 

$

(5

)

(0.6

)

EBITDA

 

$

3,856,542

 

$

2,955,786

 

$

900,756

 

30.5

 

 

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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS - Continued

 

DISH subscribers.  DISH lost approximately 166,000 net subscribers during the year ended December 31, 2011, compared to a gain of approximately 33,000 net new subscribers during the same period in 2010.  The change versus the prior year primarily resulted from a decline in gross new subscriber activations.  During the year ended December 31, 2011, DISH added approximately 2.576 million gross new subscribers compared to approximately 3.052 million gross new subscribers during the same period in 2010, a decrease of 15.6%.

 

Our gross activations and net subscriber additions were negatively impacted during the year ended December 31, 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 as a result of increased competitive pressures, including aggressive marketing and the effectiveness of certain competitors’ promotional offers, which included an increased level of programming discounts.  In addition, telecommunications companies continue to grow their respective customer bases.  Our gross activations and net subscriber additions continue to be adversely affected during the year ended December 31, 2011 by sustained economic weakness and uncertainty, including, among other things, the weak housing market in the United States combined with lower discretionary spending.

 

Our average monthly subscriber churn rate for the year ended December 31, 2011 was 1.63%, compared to 1.76% for the same period in 2010.  While churn improved compared to the same period in 2010, churn continues to be adversely affected by the increased competitive pressures discussed above.  In general, our churn rate is impacted by the quality of subscribers acquired in past quarters, our ability to provide outstanding customer service, and our ability to control piracy.

 

We have not always met our own standards for performing high-quality installations, effectively resolving subscriber issues when they arise, answering subscriber calls in an acceptable timeframe, effectively communicating with our subscriber base, reducing calls driven by the complexity of our business, improving the reliability of certain systems and subscriber equipment, and aligning the interests of certain third party retailers and installers to provide high-quality service.  Most of these factors have affected both gross new subscriber activations as well as existing subscriber churn.  Our future gross new subscriber activations and subscriber churn may be negatively impacted by these factors, which could in turn adversely affect our revenue growth.

 

Subscriber-related revenue.  DISH “Subscriber-related revenue” totaled $12.976 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $432 million or 3.4% compared to the same period in 2010.  This change was primarily related to the increase in “ARPU” discussed below.

 

ARPU.  “Average monthly revenue per subscriber” was $76.93 during the year ended December 31, 2011 versus $73.32 during the same period in 2010.  The $3.61 or 4.9% increase in ARPU was primarily attributable to price increases during the past year, higher hardware related revenue and fees earned from our in-home service operations, partially offset by decreases in premium and pay per view revenue.

 

Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue.  “Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue” totaled $1.036 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $976 million compared to the same period in 2010.  This increase was primarily driven by revenue from the rental of movies and video games, the sale of previously rented titles, and other merchandise sold to customers including movies, video games and other accessories related to our Blockbuster operations which commenced April 26, 2011.

 

Subscriber-related expenses.  “Subscriber-related expenses” totaled $6.846 billion during the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $169 million or 2.5% compared to the same period in 2010.  The increase in “Subscriber-related expenses” was primarily attributable to higher programming costs and an increase in customer retention expense, partially offset by reduced costs related to our call centers.  The increase in programming costs was driven by rate increases in certain of our programming contracts, including the renewal of certain contracts at higher rates. “Subscriber-related expenses” represented 52.8% and 53.2% of “Subscriber-related revenue” during the year ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively.  The improvement in this expense to revenue ratio primarily resulted from an increase in “Subscriber-related revenue,” partially offset by higher programming costs, discussed above.

 

In the normal course of business, we enter into contracts to purchase programming content in which our payment obligations are fully contingent on the number of subscribers to whom we provide the respective content.  Our programming expenses will continue to increase to the extent we are successful in growing our subscriber base.  In

 

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addition, our “Subscriber-related expenses” may face further upward pressure from price increases and the renewal of long-term programming contracts on less favorable pricing terms.

 

Cost of sales — equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other.  “Cost of sales — equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other” totaled $449 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $372 million compared to the same period in 2010.  This increase is primarily associated with the cost of rental title purchases or revenue sharing to studios, packaging and on-line delivery costs as well as the cost of merchandise sold such as movies, video games and other accessories related to our Blockbuster operations which commenced April 26, 2011.

 

Subscriber acquisition costs.  “Subscriber acquisition costs” totaled $1.505 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011, a decrease of $148 million or 9.0% compared to the same period in 2010.  This decrease was primarily attributable to a decline in gross new subscriber activations.

 

SAC.  SAC was $771 during the year ended December 31, 2011 compared to $776 during the same period in 2010, a decrease of $5 or 0.6%.  This decrease was primarily attributable to an increase in the percentage of redeployed receivers that were installed.

 

During the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, the amount of equipment capitalized under our lease program for new subscribers totaled $480 million and $716 million, respectively.  This decrease in capital expenditures under our lease program for new subscribers resulted primarily from a decrease in gross new subscriber activations and an increase in the percentage of redeployed receivers that were installed.

 

Capital expenditures resulting from our equipment lease program for new subscribers were partially mitigated by the redeployment of equipment returned by disconnecting lease program subscribers.  To remain competitive we upgrade or replace subscriber equipment periodically as technology changes, and the costs associated with these upgrades may be substantial.  To the extent technological changes render a portion of our existing equipment obsolete, we would be unable to redeploy all returned equipment and consequently would realize less benefit from the SAC reduction associated with redeployment of that returned lease equipment.

 

Our SAC calculation does not reflect any benefit from payments we received in connection with equipment not returned to us from disconnecting lease subscribers and returned equipment that is made available for sale or used in our existing customer lease program rather than being redeployed through our new customer lease program.  During the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, these amounts totaled $96 million and $108 million, respectively.

 

We have been deploying receivers that utilize 8PSK modulation technology and receivers that utilize MPEG-4 compression technology for several years.  These technologies, when fully deployed, will allow more programming channels to be carried over our existing satellites.  Many of our customers today, however, do not have receivers that use MPEG-4 compression and a smaller but still significant percentage do not have receivers that use 8PSK modulation.  We may choose to invest significant capital to accelerate the conversion of customers to MPEG-4 and/or 8PSK to realize the bandwidth benefits sooner.  In addition, given that all of our HD content is broadcast in MPEG-4, any growth in HD penetration will naturally accelerate our transition to these newer technologies and may increase our subscriber acquisition and retention costs.  All new receivers that we purchase from EchoStar have MPEG-4 technology.  Although we continue to refurbish and redeploy MPEG-2 receivers, as a result of our HD initiatives and current promotions, we currently activate most new customers with higher priced MPEG-4 technology.  This limits our ability to redeploy MPEG-2 receivers and, to the extent that our promotions are successful, will accelerate the transition to MPEG-4 technology, resulting in an adverse effect on our SAC.

 

Our “Subscriber acquisition costs” and “SAC” may materially increase in the future to the extent that we transition to newer technologies, introduce more aggressive promotions, or provide greater equipment subsidies.  See further discussion under “Liquidity and Capital Resources — Subscriber Acquisition and Retention Costs.”

 

General and administrative expenses. “General and administrative expenses” totaled $1.234 billion during the year ended December 31, 2011, a $609 million increase compared to the same period in 2010.  This increase was primarily due to an increase in personnel, building and maintenance and other administrative costs associated with our Blockbuster operations which commenced April 26, 2011.

 

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Litigation expense.  “Litigation expense” totaled a negative $317 million during the year ended December 31, 2011, a reduction in expense of $542 million compared to the same period in 2010.  See Note 16 in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion.

 

Depreciation and amortization.  “Depreciation and amortization” expense totaled $922 million during the year ended December 31, 2011, a $62 million or 6.3% decrease compared to the same period in 2010.  This change in “Depreciation and amortization” expense was primarily due to a decrease in depreciation on equipment leased to subscribers principally related to less equipment capitalization during 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 and less equipment write-offs from disconnecting subscribers.  This decrease was partially offset by an increase in depreciation on satellites as a result of EchoStar XIV and EchoStar XV being placed into service during the second and third quarters 2010, respectively.

 

Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized.  “Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized” totaled $558 million during the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $103 million or 22.7% compared to the same period in 2010.  This change primarily resulted from an increase in interest expense related to the issuance of our 6 3/4% Senior Notes due 2021 during the second quarter 2011 and a decrease in the amount of interest capitalized, partially offset by a decrease in interest expense as a result of the repurchases and redemptions of our 6 3/8% Senior Notes due 2011.

 

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. EBITDA was $3.857 billion during the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $901 million or 30.5% compared to the same period in 2010. The following table reconciles EBITDA to the accompanying financial statements.

 

 

 

For the Years Ended

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2011

 

2010

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

EBITDA

 

$

3,856,542

 

$

2,955,786

 

Interest expense, net

 

(523,556

)

(429,619

)

Income tax (provision) benefit, net

 

(895,006

)

(557,473

)

Depreciation and amortization

 

(922,073

)

(983,965

)

Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network

 

$

1,515,907

 

$

984,729

 

 

EBITDA is not a measure determined in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”) and should not be considered a substitute for operating income, net income or any other measure determined in accordance with GAAP.  EBITDA is used as a measurement of operating efficiency and overall financial performance and we believe it to be a helpful measure for those evaluating companies in the pay-TV industry.  Conceptually, EBITDA measures the amount of income generated each period that could be used to service debt, pay taxes and fund capital expenditures.  EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with GAAP.

 

Income tax (provision) benefit, net.  Our income tax provision was $895 million during the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $338 million compared to the same period in 2010.  The increase in the provision was primarily related to the increase in “Income (loss) before income taxes.”

 

Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network.  “Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network” was $1.516 billion during the year ended December 31, 2011, an increase of $531 million compared to $985 million for the same period in 2010.  The increase was primarily attributable to the changes in revenue and expenses discussed above.

 

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Year Ended December 31, 2010 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2009.

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

Variance

 

Statements of Operations Data

 

2010

 

2009

 

Amount

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscriber-related revenue

 

$

12,543,794

 

$

11,538,729

 

$

1,005,065

 

8.7

 

Equipment and merchandise sales, rental and other revenue

 

59,770

 

97,863

 

(38,093

)

(38.9

)

Equipment sales, services and other revenue - EchoStar

 

37,180

 

27,559

 

9,621

 

34.9

 

Total revenue

 

12,640,744

 

11,664,151

 

976,593

 

8.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and Expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscriber-related expenses

 

6,676,145

 

6,359,329

 

316,816

 

5.0

 

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

53.2

%

55.1

%

 

 

 

 

Satellite and transmission expenses - EchoStar

 

418,358

 

319,752

 

98,606

 

30.8

 

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

3.3

%

2.8

%

 

 

 

 

Satellite and transmission expenses - Other

 

40,249

 

33,672

 

6,577

 

19.5

 

% of Subscriber-related revenue

 

0.3

%

0.3

%

 

 

 

 

Cost of sales - equipment, merchandise, services, rental and other

 

76,406

 

121,238

 

(44,832

)

(37.0

)

Subscriber acquisition costs

 

1,653,494

 

1,539,562

 

113,932

 

7.4

 

General and administrative expenses

 

625,843

 

602,611

 

23,232

 

3.9

 

% of Total revenue

 

5.0

%

5.2

%

 

 

 

 

Litigation expense

 

225,456

 

361,024

 

(135,568

)

(37.6

)

Depreciation and amortization

 

983,965

 

940,033

 

43,932

 

4.7

 

Total costs and expenses

 

10,699,916

 

10,277,221

 

422,695

 

4.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating income (loss)

 

1,940,828

 

1,386,930

 

553,898

 

39.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Income (Expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

25,158

 

30,034

 

(4,876

)

(16.2

)

Interest expense, net of amounts capitalized

 

(454,777

)

(388,425

)

(66,352

)

(17.1

)

Other, net

 

30,996

 

(15,707

)

46,703

 

NM

 

Total other income (expense)

 

(398,623

)

(374,098

)

(24,525

)

(6.6

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) before income taxes

 

1,542,205

 

1,012,832

 

529,373

 

52.3

 

Income tax (provision) benefit, net

 

(557,473

)

(377,429

)

(180,044

)

(47.7

)

Effective tax rate

 

36.1

%

37.3

%

 

 

 

 

Net income (loss)

 

984,732

 

635,403

 

349,329

 

55.0

 

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interest

 

3

 

(142

)

145

 

NM

 

Net income (loss) attributable to DISH Network

 

$

984,729

 

$

635,545

 

$

349,184

 

54.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISH Network subscribers, as of period end (in millions)

 

14.133

 

14.100

 

0.033

 

0.2

 

DISH Network subscriber additions, gross (in millions)

 

3.052

 

3.118

 

(0.066

)

(2.1

)

DISH Network subscriber additions, net (in millions)

 

0.033

 

0.422

 

(0.389

)

(92.2

)