Dish Network, the satellite TV broadcaster reportedly in deal talks with T-Mobile US, is not rushing to conclude any M&A activity, chairman Charlie Ergen told the Denver Business Journal.
In fact, the reverse is true, according to Ergen (pictured). “We’re not feeling any pressure to do anything.”
“If Comcast and Time Warner had been allowed to merge, there might’ve been more urgency to react to that,” he added.
“When that’s turned down by the government, then you have more flexibility to stay where you are. Normally, as a rule, at Dish we’d rather be proactive. But there’s times when you want to stay.”
Ergen would not comment on the report of talks between Dish and T-Mobile US.
Dish Network is a player in the US mobile market, if only because it sits on more than 65MHz of unused spectrum which is suitable for mobile broadband. It has looked for partners to build a network on those frequencies.
“People want to see us do something with our spectrum, regardless of what it is, because that will move our stock up or down and they want to participate in that. So people write a lot of things and speculate a lot of things,” he said.
Dish has a 2017 deadline from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by which it should make mobile services available to 40 percent of US households. However, the FCC deadline is not final. If Dish misses it, the FCC will move to a hard deadline for when the company must have nationwide coverage or risk losing the licence to 40 MHz of its spectrum.
“The practical thing is we have until 2020 for the first piece of spectrum that we have. That’s not a clock running out,” said Ergen.
There are three good reasons not to hurry with deal-making, he said. First is the 16 July publication by the FCC of rules for the next spectrum auction, in which the company might bid. He also wants to see if the authorities give the green light to the proposed acquisition of DirecTV by AT&T – and if so, under what terms.
Finally, Dish is waiting on the FCC’s examination of its controversial bidding tactics in the last spectrum auction. The tactics might save Dish billions of dollars, all the more to go in its potential war chest.