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.'"