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Joe Clayton, Former CEO of Dish and Sirius Satellite Radio, Dies at 69

Joe Clayton, a veteran of the telecom and consumer-electronics industries who served as CEO of Dish Network and Sirius Satellite Radio, has died. He was 69.

Clayton died on Saturday, Nov. 3, after a brief illness. He served as president and CEO from June 2011 until his retirement in March 2015. Prior to that, he served as CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio (which later merged with XM to become SiriusXM) from 2001-04 and as chairman from 2004-08.

Before joining Sirius, Clayton was president of telecommunications firm Global Crossing North America; president and CEO of telco Frontier Corp. In the 1990s, as Thomson Consumer Electronics’ head of marketing and sales for the Americas and Asia, Clayton helped launch DirecTV in 1994 with Hughes Electronics and also led marketing and sales efforts for RCA TVs and VCRs. He started his career in 1973, joining RCA as a marketing associate in New York City.

“Joe was a man of passion and vision whose influence on our industry is remarkable in its breadth and depth,” Charlie Ergen, Dish founder and chairman, said in a statement. “As a master marketer, his brands, including RCA, DirecTV, Sirius Satellite Radio and Dish, were welcomed into tens of millions of American homes. As importantly, he mentored and influenced generations of leaders across our industry, including me. I am grateful for Joe’s leadership, his friendship and his generosity.”

During Clayton’s tenure, Dish launched the controversial Hopper DVR — which prevailed against legal challenges from programmers who objected to its automatic ad-skipping features — as well as Sling TV, the company’s over-the-top internet TV service.

Clayton also served as executive board chairman of the Consumer Technology Assn. (then called the Consumer Electronics Assn.) from 1995-96 and was inducted into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in 2008. He also received CTA’s Digital Patriot Award in 2013.

“The consumer technology sector has lost a legend,” Gary Shapiro, CTA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Joe was a strong and ethical leader — a lion of the industry, who was larger than life. He saw the future clearly and helped lead the industry in areas including direct broadcast satellite, HDTV and satellite radio. Joe focused on the big picture, increasing growth by inspiring people.”

Joseph Paul Clayton was born Oct. 11, 1949, in Louisville, Ky. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bellarmine University in Kentucky and an MBA in marketing and management from Indiana University.

Clayton is survived by his wife, Janet; daughters Megan Stovall (Matthew), Kelly Herr (Brock), Kathleen Reitz (Andy), and Molly; son John Paul; grandchildren Samuel, Abigail, William and Lucas Paul; brother Mike Clayton (Leigh Ann); and sister Ellen Willett (Jerry).

Among his other interests and accomplishments, Clayton was a lifelong bluegrass fan and was the recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2005.

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