Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Meet the Man Who Wants to Blow Up the TV Business: Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen Comes to Dive Into Media

Charlie Ergen brings TV into 14 million houses, which means he’s got a very nice business that has made him a billionaire.

But while lots of pay-TV operators are happy to keep things the way they are, Ergen keeps trying to blow them up: The Dish Network co-founder and chairman is constantly fighting with the rest of the TV Industrial Complex, in disputes that often end up in court.

His most recent and prominent battle is also the most important one: Dish’s new “Auto Hop” technology lets satellite TV subscribers automatically skip commercials, and that has both advertisers and TV networks in fits, for obvious reasons.

But that’s just one of Ergen’s recent adventures. He has also bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy in an attempt to take on Netflix, engaged in bruising battles with Cablevision and its AMC Networks spinoff, and rattled his saber against ESPN and its ever-increasing sports fees.

Oh. He’s also talking to Google, and everyone else, about getting into the wireless business.

All of which means the former blackjack and poker player is someone everyone in the media world watches very, very closely, even though he doesn’t say much in public. Which means we’re very excited to interview him at our D: Dive Into Media conference in February.

Ergen will be joining an all-star cast on Feb. 11 and 12 at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Here’s who we’ve told you about so far: Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora, Facebook partnership vice president Dan Rose, HBO co-president Eric Kessler, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen, Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith, Intel media head Erik Huggers and Samsung media head David Eun, Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos (and guest), New Republic owner Chris Hughes, and USA Today publisher Larry Kramer.

And there’s more to come! Stay tuned. Meanwhile, we’re getting close to showtime, so make your reservations now.

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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post