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AWS-3 Re-Auction Appears Unlikely

Federal Communications chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday he thought the agency's decision, one way or the other, about whether Dish Network-connected designated entities deserved $3 billion in bidding credits (discounts) in the AWS-3 auction would not delay the upcoming broadcast incentive auction.

Responding to a question by Todd Shields of Bloomberg following the FCC's May meeting Thursday (May 21) about whether a decision against Dish and the DEs would mean having to re-auction the spectrum, and thus potentially postpone the planned early 2016 incentive auction, Wheeler said he did not think so, adding that the "question that exists" in the AWS-3 auction is the DEs' discount. "If there is a decision made that that is inappropriate," he said, the FCC would not re-auction the spectrum; rather, the DEs would have to pay an additional $3 billion.

Wheeler later conceded that the ultimate penalty -- some have suggested Dish and the DEs colluded, while Dish and the DEs have said the rules clearly allowed their collaboration -- could be re-auctioning the spectrum, but he added, "The rules as they stand right now are: 'Pay three billion dollars more.'"

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.