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Apr 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

EchoStar President Dugan Resigns

EchoStar announced Monday that President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Dugan is stepping down from his post, effective April 30, and will join the EchoStar board and serve as a senior advisor. He is expected to assume board member duties at the company’s May 6 annual shareholders meeting.

The company said Mr. Dugan was stepping down after 14 years at the Englewood, Colo.-based company to complete work on a guest ranch in northern Colorado for disadvantaged youths and to spend more time with his family.

Under Mr. Dugan’s stewardship as president, which began in April 2000, EchoStar said its subscriber base swelled to 9.4 million in 110 markets with local TV service from 3.9 million in 28 markets.

Hindery Leaving YES CEO, Chairman Posts: Leo Hindery, chairman and CEO of the YES Network, said Monday he is stepping down as chief executive of the sports network to focus more on his personal interests. He will remain nonexecutive chairman of the channel.

Mr. Hindery had been at the helm of the YES Network since the network’s start in September 2001 and served as John Malone’s No. 2 when both were at Tele-Communications Inc., the cable company that ultimately became part of Comcast.

Having helped the network secure its place on basic cable at Cablevision-a two-year fight that ended last month-Mr. Hindery said he wanted to turn his attention to focusing on his “personal passions for philanthropy, global AIDS work and progressive politics.”

YES is a joint venture of Yankee Nets, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners.

“The Big House” Has Average Debut: ABC’s new midseason comedy “The Big House” had an average debut Friday night. It held 100 percent of its “George Lopez” lead-in in adults 18 to 49 with a 2.1/7, but ranked below the 2.5/8 that “Married to the Kellys” has been averaging in that time slot this season. It finished third in its time slot. “Big House” averaged 6.1 million viewers, also a third-place finish.

CBS to Showcase Native American Performers: CBS will hold a talent showcase featuring Native American performers June 16 in Los Angeles. The showcase, part of CBS’s Diversity Institute, will be co-sponsored by American Indians in Film and Television, the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Sonny Skyhawk will direct the showcase.

‘Farscape’ Miniseries Set for Sci Fi: “Farscape” will return to Sci Fi Channel with a four-hour miniseries during the fourth quarter. “Farscape: Peacekeeper War,” produced by The Jim Henson Co. in association with Hallmark Entertainment, reunites the cast for one final adventure. “Fans will finally be happy and truly satisfied,” Sci Fi President Bonnie Hammer said at an upfront press briefing Monday in New York. Sci Fi is also working on projects with Joel Schumacher, Mike Mignola and Vin Diesel as part of the network’s efforts to broaden programming into genres beyond “space operas,” she said. Sci Fi also announced that Shawn Ashmore, Danny Glover and Kristin Kreuk will join Isabella Rossellini in the upcoming miniseries “Earthsea.”EchoStar CEO Ergen’s Remuneration Down in 2003: Satellite operator EchoStar Communications paid Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen nearly $375,000 in remuneration in 2003, down sharply from the $646,100 he took home a year earlier, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

According to the filing, submitted Monday, Mr. Ergen saw his base salary rise to almost $284,000 from a year-earlier figure of $250,000. He had no bonus in 2003, compared with a $375,000 bonus a year earlier. Payments made in connection with his 401(k) more than tripled to slightly more than $91,000.

Mr. Ergen, who owns 50 percent of EchoStar’s outstanding shares, also exercised $2.7 million worth of stock options.

President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Dugan saw his remuneration grow to slightly more than $300,000 from a year-earlier figure of $270,000, largely due to an increase in his base salary. He received no bonus for 2003 or 2002, but exercised $10.8 million in stock options, according to the filing.

Soraya Hesabi-Cartwright, the former executive VP of EchoStar’s Dish Network who retired in January, saw her remuneration grow to nearly $263,000 in 2003 from a year-ago total of nearly $240,000. Like Mr. Dugan, Ms. Hesabi-Cartwright did not get a bonus in 2003 or 2002, but she exercised $13.2 million in stock options last year.

Adelphia, Disney Ink Deals: Adelphia Communications said Monday it has struck two agreements with The Walt Disney Co.’s cable operations, extending its carriage pact with ABC Cable Networks while expanding the channel offering of ESPN’s networks.

As part of the agreement with ABC Cable Networks, Adelphia extended its multiyear affiliation agreement with the four channels making up ABC Cable — ABC Family, Disney Channel, SoapNet and Toon Disney. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, Adelphia also expanded its carriage agreement with ESPN to include ESPN Broadband, a Web-based service that offers customized on-demand sports video highlights; ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language network; and ESPN HD, the high-definition television national sports service. Further details and financial terms were not disclosed.

Former CBS News Exec Joan Richman Dies: Joan Richman, who made TV news history when she was named executive producer of weekend editions of “CBS Evening News” in 1976, died April 2 of cancer. She was 64. While there were a handful of female TV news executives at the time, the Emmy-winning Ms. Richman was the first to have such control of a hard-news broadcast. Five years later, she was named VP and director of special events for CBS News.

Ms. Richman worked with Walter Cronkite on coverage of the Apollo space program during the late ’60s and early ’70s and with Dan Rather on numerous big stories. “Joan was a superb journalist and a courageous person right to the end,” Mr. Rather said. “She was also a wonderful teacher. Joan Richman may have mentored and brought along as many name correspondents, producers and news executives — men and women — as has anybody in the history of the craft. No brief paragraph can hope to do justice to such a woman and such a career; she will be sorely missed.”

She spent 28 years in the business, three of them at ABC News, where she produced “The Reasoner Report.” She retired from CBS in 1989 to teach media and politics at the Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Family and friends plan to celebrate Ms. Richman’s life Thursday, April 22, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan.

Salaries Soar for Cox Execs: Cox Communications President and CEO Jim Robbins saw his total remuneration package more than double in 2003 to nearly $5.5 million, as both his base salary and his annual bonus increased and as he received nearly $2.6 million in restricted stock awards, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing submitted Monday. That compared with a 2002 remuneration of $2.3 million.

Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Esser saw his remuneration more than double to $2.4 million from $1.1 million a year earlier, largely the result of bonus and salary increases as well as more than $1 million in restricted stock awards.

Cox CFO Jimmy Hayes, meanwhile, saw his compensation grow to just over $2 million from a year-earlier $1.1 million, with his salary and bonus rising 4.5 percent each. He received nearly $879,000 in restricted stock awards.