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Pallone Gets Support for Auction Rules Revamp

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, says he has five supporters for his bill, The Small Business Access to Spectrum Act, that would instruct the FCC to update its designated entity (DE) rules to give small businesses better access to spectrum for the upcoming broadcast incentive auction.

The bill's fans are Democratic committee members Reps. Bobby Rush (Ill.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Doris Matsui (Calif.) and Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.).

The bill is only two pages and simply says the FCC needs to update the auction rules, without saying how. It is essentially preaching to the choir.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said that the commission would update those DE rules, though the bill would put the FCC on a 90-day clock to do so.

Responding to questions about Dish's 85% stake in two companies applying for $3.3 billion in DE bidding credits in the recently-completed AWS-3 auction, Wheeler has told Congress that he did not want slick lawyers gaming the system and that the commission would update the rules soon.

The "gaming the system" comment stems from complaints that Dish could get billions in DE discounts via bids it made in the AWS-3 auction through two companies in which it holds a majority interest.

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.