Charlie Ergen
Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Newscom
United States

DISH Network


Charles W. Ergen started out selling satellite dishes directly to consumers in 1980, which he parlayed into satellite TV giant Dish Network with over 13 million TV subscribers and its affiliated services/equipment outfit EchoStar. Ergen’s companies have so far sat out the merger mania sweeping their sector, but speculation only seems to grow with each passing year that a deal has to happen, particularly as cord-cutting cuts deep into its core pay-TV business.

Ergen pushes internal growth initiatives, especially amassing $5 billion in wireless spectrum since 2008. Other thrusts are offering skinny-bundle TV packages to consumers, over-the-top video services, the Hopper DVR whose commercial-skipping capability irks TV programmers, the place-shifting Slingbox connection device, and expanding in-home automation/security controls. 

Dish emphasizes its low-price for multichannel TV services, which the blunt-talking and litigious Ergen defends in carriage fee disputes with programmers that result in occasional TV channel blackouts. Despite battling to keep prices low, Dish’s TV subscriber base erodes, though that’s an industrywide issue.

Forbes magazine estimates Ergen’s personal fortune at an eye-popping $18.8 billion, though he has a reputation for personal thrift. He beneficially owns 48% of Dish stock (78.5% voting control). Ergen has a business/accounting degree from University of Tennessee, and an MBA from Wake Forrest University.


  • DISH Network
  • EchoStar


  • Wake Forest University (NC, USA)
  • University of Tennessee (TN, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

Dish Founder Charlie Ergen Stepping Back in as CEO

Dish Founder Charlie Ergen Stepping Back in as CEO

Charlie Ergen, the brash entrepreneurial founder of Dish Network, will take over as CEO of the satcaster following the retirement of president and CEO Joe Clayton in March.Dish announced Monday that Clayton, who has been its chief exec since June 2011, will retire from his position effective March 31, 2015, and will also depart Dish's board."Over the last four years, Joe's leadership has been instrumental to Dish as we have worked to engineer a fundamental transformation of our business," Ergen...


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