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FCC Tees Up Auction Rule Changes

As expected, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is seeking more input on the FCC's proposal to update auction bidding rules.

That comes after questions were raised about two companies seeking designated bidding credits of billions of dollars, companies majority-owned by Dish.

Commissioner Ajit Pai and others have complained that the companies, in which Dish has an 85% interest, applied for $3.3 billion in DE discounts for the $13 billion-plus they bid in the AWS-3 auction.

The FCC is still vetting the DE status of those companies and the wireless licenses they got in the auction, but Dish said the DE eligibility was within the rules.

Wheeler signaled the auction rules would change going forward, though, to insure that "slick lawyers" don't game the system or the next auction, the broadcast incentive auction scheduled for early 2016.

"The Commission will consider a Public Notice requesting additional comment on how to ensure that small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women have an opportunity to participate in the provision of spectrum-based services, while ensuring that there are adequate safeguards to protect against unjust enrichment to ineligible entities," the FCC said in announcing the agenda for its April 17 public meeting.

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.