EchoStar Communications ( DISH) made another play at Hughes Electronics ( GMH) over Thanksgiving weekend. But analysts say the deal is as dead as a leftover turkey. Rather than breathing any new life into the merger of the two direct broadcast satellite operators, the revised plan from EchoStar revealed Friday is intended only to help EchoStar avoid some costly consequences of the deal's expected official collapse in January, says one analyst. Thus, the deal that both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department came out against in October seems no closer to its unlikely approval. As EchoStar's Dish Network and Hughes' DirecTV continue on their separate paths, the biggest question facing the parent companies is how much it will cost them once the wedding is officially canceled. In the latest plan, filed with the FCC last week, EchoStar expands on its previously disclosed proposal of helping cable TV operator Cablevision ( CVC) meet its long-standing corporate goal of launching a DBS service of its own. As part of the proposal, EchoStar says it will hand over to Cablevision various frequencies it controls for satellite broadcasting, grant Cablevision the right to resell its programming, and take other measures to help Cablevision's would-be DBS service. In its filing, EchoStar says the measures it proposes will address regulatory concerns that the merger of EchoStar and Hughes will reduce competition in the multichannel television market comprising cable operators and DBS services. But others aren't so sure the deal changes the long odds against the deal going through. "In my mind it actually doesn't," says Ray Schleinkofer of Thomas Weisel Partners. (Schleinkofer has a buy on EchoStar; his firm hasn't done recent banking for the company.) The FCC, when it declined to approve the EchoStar-Hughes merger, stated that Cablevision, whose first satellite has yet to launch, could not be counted as viable competition in the near future.