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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.'"