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FCC Commish Calls to Question Dish's Auction Discounts

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Feb 2, 2015, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is objecting to Dish Networks' claim on more than $3 billion in discounts in the recently closed AWS-3 spectrum auction. Dish did not bid directly on any spectrum. Instead, it bid through two small companies, SNR Wireless LicenseCo and Northstar Wireless, in which it held an 85% stake each. The FCC has long provided discounts to small entities to encourage bidding, but Pai doesn't think Dish should qualify. It called Dish's attempt to wrangle discounts a "mockery" of the small business discount program. Dish brought in more than $14 billion in revenue in 2013. Pai called on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to open an investigation in Dish's claims and to close "loopholes that allow big businesses to rip off the American people to the tune of billions of dollars." Dish bid more than $13 billion in the auction, surpassing Verizon Wireless. If it is awarded the discounts, Dish's total due to the government would drop to $10 billion. Wheeler hasn't responded to Pai's request, though the agency already said it will thoroughly review all the applications. Dish does not yet operate a wireless network and has not revealed what it plans to do with its spectrum winnings.

Wall Street Journal »



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Feb 2, 2015, 11:39 AM

So Dish...

...essentially pulled the farm subsidy loophole.

For those who don't know, owners of large farms would legally subdivide their farms into small farms and collect government subsidies for each one. They'd use various friends, relatives, and employees as the titular "owners" of the land, but all the decisions and money would go to the "management company" that the real owners set up.

This goes back decades. I remember a 60 Minutes report on one guy who actually got a government grant to publish a pamphlet on how to do this.
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