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No. 15: DirecTV

El Segundo, Calif.

Revenue: $5.238 billion

Operating loss: $557.9 million

If DirecTV were a cable operator it would be the third-largest multisystem operator, but a deeply troubled one nonetheless.

Earlier this month, it looked certain that Rupert Murdoch would get his hands on the direct-to-home satellite company. Rival EchoStar’s off-again, on-again wooing of the Hughes Electronics division has only exacerbated the turmoil that is largely responsible for the slump at DirecTV this year.

The company recently reduced projections in growth and cash flow for the year. Gains in the second quarter totaled 175,000 homes, significantly below DirecTV’s earlier predictions, while customer turnover rose.

The shortfalls have resulted in DirecTV putting a major focus on cracking down on rampant piracy as well marketing its popular National Football League PPV package.

“We took our eye off the ball and focused too much on the transactions during the last several months,” DirecTV chairman Eddy Hartenstein says.

That’s not where the troubles end at DirecTV. Top executives have left in droves. Hughes chairman Michael Smith quit in May and DirecTV president Odie Donald resigned in June. (Chief financial officer Roxanne Austin replaced Donald.) Bill Casamo, head of sales and marketing, ankled in July.

Depending on who ends up buying DirecTV, it could go in radically different directions. Clearly, however, this is a company that needs to know who’s in charge.

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