EchoStar ( DISH) floated higher Thursday as investors celebrated a thaw between the direct satellite broadcaster and TV titan Viacom ( VIA.B). The agreement that broke the three-day programming deadlock "turned out to be a fair and balanced long-term deal," CEO Charlie Ergen said on a noon conference call. Ergen spent much of the call explaining the deal, noting that he and Viacom President Mel Karmazin were personally involved and that the great majority of the 48-hour standoff was consumed by lawyers completing documentation. Though the pact came with side deals he'd rather have avoided, "CBS is an essential channel," Ergen told investors. "We really wouldn't be able to survive without CBS." Enthusiasm about the end of the stalemate -- which will return CBS to EchoStar's Dish satellite network just in time for the NCAA basketball tournament, due to start next week -- overshadowed the other issues that arose Thursday morning. Most notably, EchoStar delayed its scheduled financial report for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, saying it would delay filing its 2003 financial results to deal with bookkeeping issues raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also said it added 340,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter, which was above Wall Street's estimates. On Thursday, EchoStar added 81 cents to $34.93 and Viacom rose a quarter to $38. The accounting questions don't appear to be huge, involving some $26 million in past-years product reserves that may have to be reversed. Schwab Soundview analyst John Hill, who rates EchoStar stock a buy, characterized the restatement as "minor," as did UBS analyst Aryeh Bourkoff, who rates its bonds hold. More to the point, in Wall Street's eyes, is that the programming agreement ends an acrimonious dispute between the television content and delivery giants. EchoStar had portrayed its media partner as a monopolist trying to force a portfolio of unpopular networks onto its satellite network while collecting exorbitant fees. Viacom had protested that it couldn't cut anyone a special deal.