EchoStar Mulls Company Split

EchoStar Communications Corp., a distributor of satellite television programming and equipment, announced Tuesday that its board of directors has advised the executive staff to consider separating the company into two distinct, publicly traded businesses. Under the proposed plan, EchoStar's subscription-based U.S. satellite TV business would continue to operate as DISH Network. Most of the company's other technology and assets, including its set-top box and digital video recorder manufacturing businesses, would be spun off, EchoStar said. The Englewood, Colo.-based company said its shareholders are hoping that such a transaction would be tax free, adding that it has consulted the IRS for a ruling. The announcement came shortly after EchoStar's report that it has acquired privately held Sling Media, a developer of "place shifting" video recording devices for watching TV shows over the Internet.