EchoStar Statement on NAB Petition

Business & Entertainment Editors   LITTLETON, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 7, 2002--EchoStar  Communications Corporation (Nasdaq:DISH) issued the following  statement today in response to a petition filed by the National  Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Friday, Jan. 4, 2002, asking the  FCC to modify or clarify the must carry rules:   With the recent addition of over 250 local channels to the DISH  Network Direct Broadcast Satellite television service, EchoStar is in  compliance with the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act's must carry  requirements. EchoStar originally planned to meet those requirements  through the construction and launch of two new satellites at a cost of  approximately $500 million. When Lockheed Martin and Space Systems  Loral failed to timely deliver those satellites, EchoStar implemented  the only alternative capable of meeting its must carry obligations  while assuring consumers in all markets uninterrupted access to a  complete lineup of local TV broadcast channels.   Over 100 must carry channels are now available to EchoStar  customers without any additional equipment. Consequently, customers  previously receiving only NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, together with a national  PBS channel, now also receive for no additional charge their local WB,  UPN, PBS, and other must carry channels. Unfortunately, as a result of  the delayed launch of the new EchoStar 7 and EchoStar 8 satellites,  limited bandwidth renders it impossible from a practical perspective  for all must carry channels to be included on the same satellite.  Consequently, in order to avoid disruption of service or delays in the  introduction of must carry channels, EchoStar is offering a free  satellite antenna to any customer who would like to receive the  remaining must carry channels from a second EchoStar satellite.   By filing a petition for modification or clarification instead of  a complaint for failure to comply with the must carry rules, the NAB  in its most recent FCC filing effectively concedes that EchoStar has  met its must carry obligation. Nevertheless, the NAB now asks that the  rules be modified to impose additional obligations on EchoStar. The  must carry statute, and the FCC must carry rules, were the result of a  thoroughly considered process, including a long notice and comment  period and a re-evaluation of those rules after they were issued. The  NAB was an active and vocal participant in the entire process. In  fact, the FCC modified and clarified certain of its rules in specific  response to NAB demands. However, the FCC declined to modify its rules  in other respects and left intact the right of EchoStar to implement  its must carry compliance plan. EchoStar then relied upon those rules  in shaping its must carry compliance program. Those efforts provide  significant benefits to the NAB and its members in addition to the  benefits enjoyed by consumers. No additional obligation should be read  into the statute.   EchoStar has acted in good faith to shape its compliance program.  EchoStar went to the extraordinary step of discussing its  implementation plans in advance with not only the FCC, but also  members of Congress and the NAB. Unfortunately, the NAB's continuing  aggressive actions show that it cares more about scoring political  points than serving its own members or consumers. If the FCC were to  accede to the NAB's latest tactics to modify existing rules, limited  bandwidth would force EchoStar to entirely terminate local channels in  a number of markets it currently serves.   "It is ironic because our must carry compliance program should  please the NAB and its members," said Charlie Ergen, chairman and CEO  of EchoStar. "The NAB said it wants satellite TV providers to offer  local channels to consumers in a greater number of markets. They have  also said they don't want consumers to lose local channels in any  markets we currently serve. If the pending merger of EchoStar and  Hughes Electronics and its DIRECTV is approved, EchoStar will be able  to provide local channels by satellite in over 100 markets with full  must carry compliance. And we will be able to do it all from a single  dish as the NAB has also demanded. Yet, absurdly, the NAB is against a  merger that will provide the only way to achieve all of their  objectives."   NAB members have the right to use the free digital TV spectrum  they receive from the government to compete in the pay TV market.  EchoStar welcomes that competition not withstanding the failure of  many NAB members to timely comply with the obligations on which  Congress conditioned the grant and continued use of that spectrum.  However, the NAB goes too far when it pursues its agenda at the  expense of American consumers.   About EchoStar    EchoStar Communications Corporation and its DISH Network operates  a state-of-the-art direct broadcast satellite TV system that is  capable of offering over 500 channels of digital video and CD-quality  audio programming, as well as advanced satellite TV receiver hardware  and installation. EchoStar is included in the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX).  DISH Network currently serves over 6.43 million customers. For more  information, visit www.dishnetwork.com.   In connection with the proposed transactions, General Motors  Corporation ("GM"), Hughes Electronics Corporation ("Hughes") and  EchoStar Communications Corporation ("EchoStar") intend to file  relevant materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission,  including one or more Registration Statement(s) on Form S-4 that  contain a prospectus and proxy/consent solicitation statement. Because  those documents will contain important information, holders of GM  $1-2/3 and GM Class H common stock are urged to read them, if and when  they become available. When filed with the SEC, they will be available  for free at the SEC's website, www.sec.gov, and GM stockholders will  receive information at an appropriate time on how to obtain  transaction-related documents for free from General Motors. Such  documents are not currently available.   General Motors and its directors and executive officers, Hughes  and certain of its officers, and EchoStar and certain of its executive  officers may be deemed to be participants in GM's solicitation of  proxies or consents from the holders of GM $1-2/3 common stock and GM  Class H common stock in connection with the proposed transactions.  Information regarding the participants and their interests in the  solicitation was filed pursuant to Rule 425 with the SEC by EchoStar  on November 1, 2001 and by each of GM and Hughes on November 16, 2001.  Investors may obtain additional information regarding the interests of  the participants by reading the prospectus and proxy/consent  solicitation statement if and when it becomes available.   This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell or the  solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of  securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or  sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under  the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. No offering of  securities shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the  requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.   Materials included in this document contain "forward-looking  statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation  Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and  unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause our  actual results to be materially different from historical results or  from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking  statements. The factors that could cause actual results of GM, Hughes,  EchoStar, or a combined EchoStar and Hughes, to differ materially,  many of which are beyond the control of EchoStar, Hughes or GM  include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) the businesses of  EchoStar and Hughes may not be integrated successfully or such  integration may be more difficult, time-consuming or costly than  expected; (2) expected benefits and synergies from the combination may  not be realized within the expected time frame or at all; (3) revenues  following the transaction may be lower than expected; (4) operating  costs, customer loss and business disruption, including, without  limitation, difficulties in maintaining relationships with employees,  customers, clients or suppliers, may be greater than expected  following the transaction; (5) generating the incremental growth in  the subscriber base of the combined company may be more costly or  difficult than expected; (6) the regulatory approvals required for the  transaction may not be obtained on the terms expected or on the  anticipated schedule; (7) the effects of legislative and regulatory  changes; (8) an inability to obtain certain retransmission consents;  (9) an inability to retain necessary authorizations from the FCC; (10)  an increase in competition from cable as a result of digital cable or  otherwise, direct broadcast satellite, other satellite system  operators, and other providers of subscription television services;  (11) the introduction of new technologies and competitors into the  subscription television business; (12) changes in labor, programming,  equipment and capital costs; (13) future acquisitions, strategic  partnership and divestitures; (14) general business and economic  conditions; and (15) other risks described from time to time in  periodic reports filed by EchoStar, Hughes or GM with the Securities  and Exchange Commission. You are urged to consider statements that  include the words "may," "will," "would," "could," "should,"  "believes," "estimates," "projects," "potential," "expects," "plans,"  "anticipates," "intends," "continues," "forecast," "designed," "goal,"  or the negative of those words or other comparable words to be  uncertain and forward-looking. This cautionary statement applies to  all forward-looking statements included in this document.