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Dish revenue rises as it earns more per pay-TV user

The Dish Network logo on the side of installers truck is seen in Denver March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Devika Krishna Kumar

(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) reported a 3.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue as it earned more per user in its core pay-TV business, making up for a fall in subscribers.

The second-largest U.S. satellite TV company said average revenue per pay-TV user rose to $86.01 from $82.36.

Dish, which raised prices in February, said net pay-TV subscribers fell by about 134,000 in the first quarter ended March 31.

The company blamed the subscriber losses on blackouts of some channels due to disputes with media companies including Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) Turner Broadcasting, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) and other local network affiliates.

Dish, which had 13.84 million subscribers as of March 31, was involved in a three-week dispute with Fox before signing a new distribution agreement on Jan. 15 that put Fox programming back on its service.

Dish customers faced a 12-hour blackout of CBS Corp's (CBS.N) programs and went for a month without Turner networks including CNN and Cartoon Network toward the end of last year before deals were reached to restore them.

The company said the impact of the programming interruptions, which began in the fourth quarter and continued in the first quarter, has since subsided.

Dish, the No. 2 U.S. satellite TV provider after DirecTV (DTV.O), has also been losing pay-TV subscribers in an increasingly competitive market, as rivals offer discounts to both new and existing subscribers.

The company has been attempting to woo young viewers away from their cable or satellite subscriptions to its less costly Sling TV streaming service, which it launched in January.

However, analysts said Dish's spectrum strategy would remain the focus.

"Today's results are unlikely to shift investor

focus away from the AWS-3 regulatory process, the ultimate outcome of DISH's spectrum, and M&A potential in the space," Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is investigating whether the bidding strategies employed by Dish and two affiliates in a recent Federal Communications Commission auction of airwaves adhered to the law.

Net income attributable to Dish jumped to $351.5 million, or 76 cents per share, for the first quarter from $175.9 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue rose to $3.72 billion from $3.59 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 40 cents per share on revenue of $3.74 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's shares were up marginally at $67.05 in light premarket trading.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)