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EchoStar to Pay $5M for Complaints

May 22, 2003

DENVER (AP) _ EchoStar Communications Corp. has agreed to pay $5 million to settle customer complaints about the satellite TV service in 13 states, Colorado’s attorney general said Thursday.

Prosecutors in those states have been investigating EchoStar for allegedly violating consumer protection laws, but no lawsuits have been filed.

A telephone message seeking comment from Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar was not immediately returned.

The settlement involves about 1,800 complaints from consumers who felt EchoStar’s Dish Network misled them about pricing and contract issues, Attorney General Ken Salazar said. Some people had complained that the ads failed to disclose early termination fees and extra charges for local programming, Salazar said.

About $3 million of the settlement will be used to compensate consumers, and the rest will be used to cover the cost of the states’ 18-month investigation.

The settlement will take effect without court approval in September. Consumers who file complaints will be compensated at an amount to be determined later by the attorney general in each state.

``I think the message to all those businesses in this state and in this country is first and foremost be up front with your customers,″ Salazar said. ``If you don’t, you may end up in an investigation like EchoStar was in.″

EchoStar stock was up $1.20, 3.9 percent, at $32.30 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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