FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday he thought the FCC's decision, one way or the other, about whether Dish-connected designated entities deserved $3 billion in bidding credits (discounts) in the AWS-3 auction would not delay the upcoming incentive auction.
He was asked by Todd Shields of Bloomberg following the FCC's May meeting Thursday whether a decision against Dish and the DE's could mean having to re-auction the spectrum, and thus potentially delay the planned early 2016 broadcast incentive auction.
Wheeler said he did not think there would be a delay of the incentive auction, saying that the "question that exists" in the AWS-3 auction is the DE discount. "If there is a decision made that that is inappropriate," he said, "the issue is $3 billion more dollars" rather than re-auctioning the spectrum.
He later conceded that the ultimate penalty — some have suggested Dish and the DE's colluded, though Dish and those DE's have said the rules clearly allowed their collaboration — could be re-auctioning the spectrum, but he said that "the rules as they stand right now are: 'pay three billion dollars more.'"
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.
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