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A few months ago Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network were successful bidders in the Federal Communications Commission’s auction of AWS-3 wireless spectrum (which overall raised billions of dollars for the US Treasury). Ergen/Dish paid $13.3 billion out of the total $44.9 billion raised by the auction.
However, Dish Network received a significant $3.3 billion in financial discounts by claiming it was a “small business” and thus entitled to the special treatment.
The FCC, in its own investigation, found that the paperwork was correct and that the discounts were properly earned. Moreover, the discounts gained were part of a long-standing normal ‘custom and practice’ by successful spectrum bidders.
That FCC decision did not go down well with some of Dish Network’s rivals and fellow-bidders, and the grumbles have been elevated to the powerful US Senate Commerce Committee, which is now investigating what some report suggest are allegations of “collusion” in the auction process.
“The Committee has significant questions about whether conduct surrounding the bidding strategies employed by Dish Network and two affiliates adhered to both the letter and intent of the law,” the panel’s chairman, Senator John Thune, said in letters sent to the FCC, Dish and other interested parties.