Dish-Connected Bidders Won't Get Billions in Auction Credits

Dish said Wednesday it had met with FCC Wireless Bureau staffers who told it that an order circulated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to the other commissioners had denied over $3 billion in designated entity bidding credits to Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, who together were among the top bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum auction earlier this year.

The order concludes that Dish's majority financial interest in the companies are controlling interests that should be attributable to Dish, which means the companies are ineligible for the $1.9 billion (Northstar) and $1.4 billion (SNR Wireless) bidding credits they had applied for.

According to Dish, the FCC will not designate the issue for hearing or refer it to the Enforcement Bureau or the Justice Department.

The order must still be voted by the other commissioners, but it is expected to have the votes to pass.

"DISH has a tremendous amount of respect for the FCC commissioners and staff," said Dish EVP and general counsel, R. Stanton Dodge, "and we appreciate their hard work on this matter. However, we respectfully disagree with the proposed denial of the bidding credits. Our approach to the AWS-3 auction, which followed 20 years of FCC precedent and complied with all legal requirements, was intended to enhance competition -- in the auction and in the marketplace long term. Our investments in NorthStar and SNR helped make the AWS-3 auction the most successful spectrum auction in FCC history, and resulted in more than $20 billion of direct benefit to the American taxpayer.”

John Eggerton

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.