The prices of DBS or 18-inch satellite dish hardware continue to plummet amid whispers that with sales projections far behind schedule, the business could already be peaking.

When 1996 began, the retail price for a Sony or RCA DirecTV dish equipment package was about $700. It was slashed to $600 by spring, to $500 by summer and, over Labor Day, both DirecTV and EchoStar had cut deals with equipment manufacturers to drop the basic system to $199 when a $300 annual program package is purchased in tandem.

Now this week, Fry’s and Fedco stores have reduced the price for an RCA system to a mere $99.95, with Circuit City advertising it for $149.95 – both contingent on the purchase of a year of programming in advance.

A DirecTV spokesman said the price reductions were the decision of the retail chains and not done at DirecTV’s behest despite holiday sales running 20% to 40% below predictions.

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