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Dish CEO Charlie Ergen Eyes Softer Regulation Era Under Trump Administration

9 Nov, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dish CEO Charlie Ergen

Satellite executive says net neutrality could be weakened going forward

Facing a GOP-led Congress and President-elect Donald Trump next year, Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen said the new administration could help trigger regulatory changes and infrastructure opportunities for video distribution, including over-the-top.

Speaking Nov. 9 on the company's fiscal call, Ergen said following a period of policy uncertainty as Trump assembles his cabinet and names a head of the Federal Communications Commission, he expected greater likelihood of bipartisan support for infrastructure investment utilizing offshore funds.

“You're probably going to see a more rational tax code, particularly as it relates to corporate taxes and particularly as it relates to maybe bringing overseas money back, which then can pay for infrastructure,” Ergen said. “I think those are all potentially big positives for business in general. Anytime you have less regulation, you have a better chance for GDP growth.”

Dish, which operates online video platform Sling TV, believes that with a pro-business federal government, it could more easily employ capital improvement spending on broadband connectivity. 

“This was an election about people, it's always the have and have-nots, and the have-nots voted for Donald Trump,” Ergen said. “Rural America doesn’t have as much connectivity. We would expect to probably see some real initiatives there.”

During the election, Trump was quoted as being against mega media mergers, including the proposed AT&T and Time Warner union. Ergen, who believes AT&T forgoing data usage (i.e. “zero rating”) on the pending DirecTV Now streaming service could violate net neutrality provisions, seemed dismissive of Trump’s campaign rhetoric.

“You always have to take seriously when someone is running for president, what they say. But obviously, any candidate reserves the right to change their mind when they have different facts.”

The CEO said the new administration opens the door to a “lighter hand” on regulation, including net neutrality, which mandates all Internet traffic be treated equally.

“You may see net neutrality be challenged or weakened going forward. But the American public, the same people that voted in the election, is going to want to be treated fairly and [not] be gouged. You're going see a balance there, I think.”


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