Pay-TV titans Ergen, Malone, Dolan rank high on Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans

While hedge funders, real-estate titans, hotel barons and oil tycoons dominate Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, the pay-TV sector is well-represented, too, with Charlie Ergen, John Malone and Charles Dolan ranking on the higher portion of the list.

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) Chairman and CEO Ergen was placed highest, at No. 28, with a net worth listed by Forbes at $16.4 billion. The 62-year-old satellite executive didn't even make FierceCable's list of top earners in the pay-TV industry in 2014, taking in $1.7 billion.

Of course, as Forbes noted, the son of an Austrian physicist and former professional gambler has other revenue streams. A study released by the Carmel Group in July determined that Ergen delivered the most value among his media business executive peers relative to his salary.

Notably, Ergen is listed as an "8" on Forbes' "self-made" scale, with a "one-to-10" scale metric, with the lowest number meaning a fortune is entirely inherited and a "10" signifying "a Horatio Alger-esque journey."

At No. 68, meanwhile, Liberty Media honcho John Malone has a fortune valued by Forbes at 7.2 billion. The 74-year-old Johns Hopkins doctorate recipient, said Forbes, "proved once again that he's arguably the most powerful man in cable, after his Charter Communications announced in May 2015 it would take over Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks for $71 billion in cash and stock. (That deal came a month after regulators shot down Comcast's bid for Time Warner.) If completed, it'll form the nation's second-largest cable company. He already has sizable stakes in Discovery Communications, Lions Gate Entertainment and cable-TV channel Starz."

Malone's self-made ranking is also "8."

Meanwhile, Dolan ranked at No. 114 with a net worth listed by Forbes at $4.7 billion. The 88-year-old John Carroll University dropout just sold his cable company, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), to France's Altice NV for $17.7 billion. Forbes calls this "the crowning achievement for a guy who got his start cutting sports highlight reels for TV stations around his native Cleveland."

Dolan scored a "9" on Forbes' self-made scale.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates continued to lead Forbes' overall ranking with a net worth listed at $76 billion. 

For more:
- read this Forbes report

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