Satellite misfire to hurt HDTV expansion

Image: Russian Proton-M booster with U.S. built AMS-14 satellite
This Russian rocket carrying a U.S. satellite, shown here on its launch pad in Kazakhstan March 15, fell 5,000 miles short of its planned altitude of 22,400 miles.AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Problems with a satellite launch will stop Dish Network from rolling out more HDTV coverage, analysts say.

Reports indicated that a rocket carrying the AMC-14 satellite did not reach high enough orbit. That will take at least a few months to fix, analysts say, and until then, Dish Network Corp. will not be able to expand its local and national coverage.

Wachovia analyst Jeff Wlodarzcak thinks the satellite's owner, SES Global, may be able to move the device. But he writes in a note to investors that would shorten its life to two to three years from 12 to 15 years.

If the satellite cannot be moved, he adds, it will take at least two years to get another into orbit.

Lehman Brothers analyst Vijay Jayvant says rival DirecTV Group already offers more high-definition local coverage than Dish Network, and the delay gives DirecTV time to widen its lead.