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Dish Network CEO Resigns

The transformation of Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) continued Monday with a surprise announcement that Charlie Ergen will step down as president and CEO.

Ergen, Dish's founder and spiritual leader, will remain on as chairman. His successor, Joseph Clayton, will start his new role on June 20, 2011.

Clayton, a 38-year telecom and consumer electronics industry vet, most recently served as chairman of Sirius Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM) and before that, was president of Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC)'s North America division, and president and CEO of Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR). On the CE front, he once served as EVP of marketing and sales for the Americas and Asia for Thomson (now Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH)).

Clayton said in a statement that his "working relationship with Charlie spans nearly 20 years, and I look forward to building on Dish Network's legacy of innovation and value in TV entertainment."

Why this matters
The big move up top comes at a critical point in Dish's history as it reinvents itself into much more than a satellite TV service company. Dish did not offer a reason for the shift, but it should allow Ergen to focus on the long-term strategic direction of the company while leaving the day-to-day tending and feeding to Clayton.

It's also the first time Ergen has relinquished the CEO role. Carl Vogel, a long-time cable vet who is still a Dish vice chairman, stepped down as Dish president in 2008.

Dish has been on an acquisition spree of late, making moves to snap up distressed companies and assets, including Blockbuster Inc. , Move Networks and two spectrum-rich satellite/terrestrial firms.

Dish has been coy about its long-term strategic plans for Blockbuster and its newfound spectrum position. However, it's already starting to put its Move buy into play, planning to use its adaptive streaming technology to deliver on-demand content over broadband to set-top boxes in June.

For more
Get caught up on Charlie Ergen's recent moves and grooves:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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