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Dish revenue misses estimates, loses more subscribers than expected

FILE PHOTO: A Dish Network receiver hangs on a house in Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Anjali Athavaley

(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) would consider various options for its wireless airwaves, its chief executive said on Monday, after the U.S. satellite TV provider reported quarterly revenue that missed analysts' estimates as it lost more subscribers than expected.

Dish has been buying up spectrum, or radio frequencies that carry the data flowing through devices, making it a potential acquisition target for a U.S. wireless carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O), according to industry analysts.

Dish was the second-largest winner in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission auction of broadcaster airwaves this year, bidding $6.2 billion to increase its spectrum holdings.

Companies taking part in the auction were restrained from holding merger talks for over a year until the ban ended last week. On the company's post-earnings conference call, Dish Chief Executive Charlie Ergen declined to comment on whether it had been approached by other companies.

But when asked whether Dish would prefer to sell or leasing its spectrum as opposed to keeping it, he said that the company was open to options that would ultimately increase shareholder value.

"At least today, we think that means someone looking at the wireless world in a disruptive manner," Ergen said.

He also acknowledged that there could be more consolidation in the wireless industry, including a merger between T-Mobile and rival Sprint Corp (S.N), and said Dish would look to see if such a deal hurt competition.

The company said it lost about 143,000 net pay-TV subscribers in its first quarter through March 31, after losing 23,000 a year earlier. The number was roughly double analysts' average estimate of a loss of 72,000 subscribers, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Churn, or the rate of customer defections among pay-TV subscribers, rose to 1.69 percent in the quarter, from 1.63 percent a year earlier.

Net income attributable to Dish fell to $376 million, or 76 cents a share, in the quarter, from $400 million, or 86 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 3.9 pct to $3.68 billion from $3.83 billion.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 69 cents per share on revenue of $3.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Dish shares fell 2.3 percent to close at $62.93. The stock has surged more than 26 percent in the past 12 months.

(Additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Bernadette Baum)