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FCC said to be ready to deny DISH discounts on airwaves

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is getting ready to say that Dish Network cannot claim $3.3 billion in discounts that it obtained in a wireless spectrum auction by bidding through two smaller companies, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In the auction, which closed earlier this year, Dish bid on spectrum through the two companies. Then, they claimed discounts offered to small businesses through the “designated entity” program.

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Their actions triggered protests from competitors. The Senate Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill after talks with Mnuchin, Meadows Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE (R-S.D.), is investigating the issue.

The FCC has reportedly decided that Dish does not qualify for the credits. Chairman Tom Wheeler is said to have circulated a draft of his recommendation to the four other commissioners — the standard process for making policy at the agency.

DISH declined to comment.

The commissioners approved by party-line vote a plan on Thursday to reform the discount program. Under the new rules, companies will no longer be able to form the legal arrangements that allowed Dish to coordinate with the two smaller companies. The Republicans on the commission say it doesn’t do enough to crack down on large companies using the spectrum obtained by small businesses.

At a press conference after the meeting, Wheeler declined to comment on his thinking about whether to deny Dish the credits.