Posting first-quarter results, America’s second largest satellite TV broadcaster Echostar reported narrowing losses, rising revenues and a jump in its subscriber base.

Echostar revealed a Q1 net loss of $167 million, down from the $185.1m in Q1 2000, with revenues increasing from $565.7m last year to $861.9m. Excluding a $92m charge related to the declining value of investments, the net loss stood at 16 cents per share, considerably better than analysts’ forecasts of 24 cents.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) stood in the black at $51m, compared to a loss of $87.6m a year ago, while over the same period operating losses narrowed from $142m to $15.2m.

The company attributed the results to a rapidly growing subscriber base – up 48% year-on-year to 5.72m, with an increase of 460,000 over the course of Q1. Echostar has promoted its services heavily, leading to a rise in marketing expenditure from $273.3m in Q1 last year to $300.2m. This stands in contrast to the broadcaster’s larger rival DirecTV (owned by Hughes Electronics), which has announced cutbacks in efforts to attract new customers due to rising costs and the economic climate.

Speaking to analysts, Echostar chairman/chief executive Charlie Ergen announced he was still interested in merging with Hughes, despite the latter’s ongoing flirtation with NewsCorp [WAMN: 22-Mar-01; 02-May-01].

News source: Wall Street Journal