Dish Chairman Talks Turner Split, Blasts Comcast-Time Warner Merger

“It’s Turner’s job to make their product better, not ours,” Charlie Ergen says

Dish Network’s earnings call on Tuesday morning was dominated by the satellite company’s decision last month to drop Turner channels including CNN and Cartoon Network, with Dish chairman Charlie Ergen opining that the loss of CNN is not nearly the blow that it would have been in the past.

Ergen also took aim at the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, saying that he’s “openly against” the two companies combining.

Also read: Dish Network’s Profit, Earnings Drop Along With Subscribers

During the call, Ergen noted that there are many more options for consumers to watch news these days, making CNN far less indispensable than in years past. Referencing Tuesday’s elections, Ergen noted that while not having CNN on an election night “would be a disaster,” there are currently “plenty of other places for people to get news.”

Still, Ergen noted, “We’re disappointed that Turner did not extend their contracts,” adding, “When we take something down we’re prepared to take it down forever.”

Also read: CNN, Cartoon Network Among Turner Networks Dropped by Dish During Carriage Dispute

Ergen did concede that Dish does “expect to lose some customers” as a result of dropping the Turner channels, but noted that, without the Turner channels, Dish wouldn’t have to raise subscription rates next year.

Regarding CNN, Ergen said that “it’s hard to have a double-digit price increase” for a channel that consumers are watching half as much as in years before. “It’s Turner’s job to make their product better, not ours,” he added.

Also read: Comcast-TWC Deal Draws More Fire From Al Franken in Senate

Even so, noting that Turner was an early partner with Dish, Ergen added, “I would bend over backwards for Turner, because they helped us get into” the business.

Discussing the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger, Ergen struck a far less conciliatory tone, saying that the merger would create an unhealthy amount of control in the hands of a single entity.

“You just don’t want one company to have that kind of power over the internet,” Ergen said. “That’s certainly something that would keep us up at night.”