Thune cheers FCC move to strip two DISH Network affiliates of bid credits

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, issued a statement on Monday praising the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to strip two DISH Network affiliates, Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, of $3.3 billion in bidding credits.

In April 2015, the Commerce Committee began an evaluation of the bidding strategies of DISH Network. The specific auction was the FCC’s Auction 97 for Advanced Wireless Services. These auctions are used to sell and purchase the rights to licenses for public bandwidth frequencies for private-sector use, including satellite broadcasts, mobile phones, TV broadcasts and terrestrial radio.

At Auction 97, DISH Network’s two subsidiaries posed as “very small businesses” to gain a 25 percent discount for all of their winning bids, which they initially received. The FCC decision strips SNR and Northstar of the $3.3 billion discount.

“I applaud the FCC for taking meaningful action to address the questions I raised about the conduct of DISH and its two affiliates in the most recent spectrum auction,” Thune said. “However, I remain concerned that the FCC’s constantly changing approach to designated entity rules may still prove ineffective in preventing future bidders from gaming the system to the disadvantage of authentic small- and minority-owned businesses. The FCC is responsible for putting our nation’s spectrum resources to the most productive and efficient use possible, and I will continue to press the FCC to ensure future spectrum auctions are fair and competitive.”