EchoStar goes very international

Chris Forrester

EchoStar and AsiaSat have formed a joint-venture to deliver DTH television to Taiwan. But be prepared for lots more to come as EchoStar looks overseas for expansion and new business.

First, the EchoStar and AsiaSat j-v will see AsiaSat 4 used to deliver Ku-band programming to Taiwan. The service will commence later this year, using EchoStar’s pay-TV expertise and AsiaSat 4A at 122 deg East.

"This joint venture between AsiaSat and EchoStar makes it possible to enter the growing Asian market that seeks a popular lineup of all digital television channels at an attractive price," said Steve Schaver, President/EchoStar International Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. "The opportunity to partner with AsiaSat for delivery of video services creates an exciting opportunity for EchoStar as we enter the DTH market in Asia."

Note Mr Schaver’s comments about Asia. Note that he does not simply say ‘Taiwan’. This is because EchoStar’s ambitions in ‘Asia’ are much greater than just Taiwan, important as that market is. EchoStar has maintained points of presence throughout the Asia and Middle East for years, biding its time to move beyond the simple box-supply business that it has preserved for more than 15 years.

Now EchoStar has set its sights on DTH services like HDTV, and hopes to use high-def to move certain markets into pay-TV. Zones of interest like the Middle East have struggled to establish profitable pay-TV businesses, and it seems EchoStar also has its eye on the opportunities the Middle East presents in terms of pay-TV.

Few understand the satellite pay-TV business better than Charlie Ergen. Steve Schaver, a long-term EchoStar player, is cut from the same cloth. Schaver was for a time CFO at EchoStar. He has been working alongside Ergen since 1984, which makes him a true satellite veteran. He has run EchoStar’s international business since 2000. Our advice: watch EchoStar’s international business closely.