Northstar Ponders Appeal of FCC Bidding Credit Decision

Northstar Wireless said it is considering appealing the FCC's decision to deny it designated entity bidding credits in the AWS-3 spectrum auction.

The FCC voted unanimously, though with some reservation on commissioner Mignon Clyburn's part, to deny the discount given that Dish had put up most of the money and had contracted to build out and run the network. The text of that decision was posted Aug. 19.

Northstar, which was the third largest bidder, and winner, in the auction, said in a statement that it was "considering an appeal," which could either be a petition to reconsider, or a direct court challenge, though courts generally prefer parties appeal first to the agency.

“We are extremely disappointed in the FCC’s decision,” said Aaron Schutt, president of Doyon, an investor group that "owns and controls" Northstar, and in which Dish is a partner. “The DE program was intended to provide greater fairness to minority-owned businesses in an industry virtually devoid of minority ownership. The FCC’s decision to deny Northstar Wireless our bid credits not only falls far short of that intent, it moves in the opposite direction. Departing from its own rules and precedent after the conclusion of the auction is patently unfair to us. We have diligently complied with all FCC rules, and structured our entity and agreements consistent with scores of other DEs approved by the FCC. We cannot see how it is possible to comply with rules that change after the fact.”

Doyon is an Alaska Native Regional Corporation, one of a baker’s dozen of such corporations set up by Congress as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, according to the company. Shareholders include almost 20,000 Alaska natives.

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.