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EchoStar slashes satellite TV service rates

The satellite TV service provider announces a new pricing plan that cuts the monthly subscription rate for its service by more than 70 percent.

EchoStar Communications announced Tuesday a new pricing plan that cuts the monthly subscription rate for its satellite TV service by more than 70 percent.

Subscribers who sign up for EchoStar's DISH Network service can get access to 118 TV channels for $9 a month, substantially lower than the usual rate of $30.99.

The fee also significantly undercuts EchoStar's main competitor, DirecTV, whose lowest monthly fee starts at $21.99 for about 50 channels. The new deal also costs far less than the price of most monthly cable TV rates.

EchoStar, which serves about 6 million subscribers, made the offer to entice hesitant customers into trying satellite TV.

"For consumers who are on the edge and not sure if they want satellite TV or not, we think this will bring them over," said Mark Lumpkin, a spokesperson for EchoStar.

To be eligible, EchoStar customers must sign up between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 and pay about $199 for a satellite dish to receive the discount rate for one full year. Subscribers must also choose to receive certain limited programming packages to qualify.

The $9 package excludes pricey channels like HBO and Showtime, which cost extra as do local channels, but the offer does come with news channels like CNN and CNBC along with well-known media stations like MTV, VH1 and BET.

EchoStar recently tried to merge with competitor DirecTV, which is owned by Hughes Electronics and claims more than 9.8 million users, but the talks were called off in July.

EchoStar recently reported a second-quarter net profit of $2.1 million, or zero cents a share, compared with a loss of $133.1 million, or 28 cents a share a year ago. Revenue rose to $966.3 million from $646.1 million.