Charlie Ergen insists that Dish Network Corp.'s bid for a big stake in Clearwire LLC is the best option for shareholders, but his confidence that Dish will win out is waning. (See Dish Puts In Rival Bid for Clearwire.)
The offer isn't illusory, as Sprint Nextel Corp. would like everyone to believe, the Dish chairman insisted at Monday night's D: Dive Into Media conference. "But the deck is stacked against us," said Ergen, who's known for his prowess at the poker table. (See Analyst: Dish's Clearwire Bid Has Slim Chance.)
Ergen still thinks building a wireless network was the ideal outcome for Dish, as selling its spectrum was not the company's original intention. However, the delay in getting spectrum approved for terrestrial-only purposes made the build-from-scratch option "outside the grasp of reality … it's better to probably work with someone who is in the business." (See Dish Spectrum Gets Clearance for Takeoff.)
Ergen also said Dish had plans to use its struggling Blockbuster Inc. chain to sell wireless products, but complained that the regulatory environment has hindered that idea too. "Because we got delayed on wireless, it hasn't worked out exactly as we planned," he said. (See Dish's Latest Buy Is a Blockbuster.)
So, what's the plan if the Clearwire bid doesn't work out? Ergen's still keeping those cards hidden.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable