Charlie Ergen Steps Down as Dish CEO to Focus on Wireless Business

Erik Carlson named president/CEO amid larger shakeup of senior management team

Dish Network announced that chairman Charlie Ergen has “relinquished” the role of CEO to focus on the company’s emerging wireless business, amid a larger reshuffling of the Dish senior management team.

Replacing Ergen at the helm is Erik Carlson, who has been named president and CEO. Previously, Carlson was president and COO. Carlson, who joined the satellite TV operator in 1995, will continue to report to Ergen.

“With more than 20 years’ experience at Dish, Erik brings a complete understanding of the business opportunities both Dish TV and Sling TV possess,” Ergen said in a statement. “I have every confidence that under Erik’s leadership our new organizational structure will deliver value for Dish TV and Sling TV and will aid our entry into wireless.”

Since 2008, Dish has spent more than $11 billion to acquire wireless spectrum licenses and related assets and invested over $10 billion for non-controlling stakes in various wireless entities.

In March 2017, Dish notified the FCC that it plans to deploy a 5G-capable wireless network focused on supporting narrowband Internet of Things (IoT) applications for connecting remote devices. The company said the first phase of the network deployment will be completed by March 2020 — in order to meet the FCC’s “use it or lose it” deadline for Dish-owned spectrum licenses.

Along with Carlson’s appointment as CEO, Dish announced other executive changes Tuesday:

  • Warren Schlichting will head up Sling TV as EVP and group president; previously, Schlichting was EVP of marketing, programming and media sales. In the new role, he will continue to oversee Dish’s media sales and programming departments. Former Sling TV chief Roger Lynch departed in August to join Pandora as president and CEO.
  • Brian Neylon will oversee Dish TV as EVP and group president. He was formerly EVP of customer acquisition and retention, and will continue to oversee those departments.
  • John Swieringa succeeds Carlson as COO, overseeing all operational departments supporting the company’s Dish TV, Sling TV and wireless groups.
  • David Scott, a 20-year veteran of Walmart who most recently was SVP of talent and organizational effectiveness at the retailer, has joined Dish as chief human resources officer. He will serve Dish as an EVP and will join Dish’s management committee in February, reporting to Carlson. Scott takes over for Mike McClaskey, Dish’s previous head of HR, who departed the company in May.
  • Vivek Khemka, EVP and chief technology officer, is joining Carlson’s executive leadership team.

Carlson’s other direct reports are Tim Messner, EVP and general counsel; CFO Steve Swain; and Bob Toevs, VP of corporate communications.

Dish execs reporting directly to Ergen, who remains chairman, are Carlson; Tom Cullen, EVP of corporate development; Bernie Han, EVP of strategic planning; and Jeff Blum, SVP of public policy and government affairs.

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