Since when is Dish Networks considered a small business, according to the them they are entitled to a 25% bidding discount. Shame on you Charlie Ergen.
It must be the political campaign season. A lot of politicians are talking about income inequality and crony capitalism.
These issues are certainly important and deserve the attention of our policymakers. But where is the outrage when a big corporation rips off $3.3 BILLION worth of taxpayer funds, while abusing a program designed to support minority entrepreneurs?
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held auctions to license more wireless spectrum to meet the ever-increasing demands of American consumers hooked on their smartphones, tablets, TVs and other appliances that are all linked together wirelessly.
DISH Network, a company worth $34 billion and run by non-minority billionaires, formed a joint bidding agreement with two smaller companies, Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, to win over 700 licenses in the FCC auction.
Working in coordination, the small companies leveraged the deep pockets of DISH and engaged in unscrupulous behavior throughout the auctions to force out competing small businesses that bid on the same licenses. As a result, this partnership won more licenses than any other bidder.
But here’s the shocking part. DISH has now asked the FCC for a 25% bidding discount because they claim that their partners are defined as “very small businesses” under the FCC’s rules, qualified for such a subsidy.
If the FCC agrees and awards these bidding credits, DISH would only pay $10 billion for all of their licenses, instead of paying the full $13.3 billion they bid in the market. That’s $3.3 billion that could be going to the U.S. Treasury that will instead pad the pockets of DISH’s owners.
When Congress allowed the FCC to auction off spectrum, they created a program to ensure that small or minority-owned businesses have an opportunity to participate as well. The “designated entities” program is designed to give minorities a chance to get a foot in the door to the most robust and growing sector of the economy – the information and communications industries.
“TechLatino” Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA) is committed to supporting Latinos who work in the information sciences, new media, telecommunications, and technology sectors. We strongly support the FCC’s designated entities program as long as it is implemented properly.
But the result of this most recent auction turns the well-intentioned program on its head.
In a recent article called, “How Loopholes Turned Dish Network Into a ‘Very Small Business’,” the New York Times explained that, “Through sleight of hand and aggressive use of partners and loopholes, Dish turned itself into that very small business, distorting reality and creating an unfair advantage.”
We are pleased that Senator John Thune (R-SD),, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is looking into this abhorrent situation, and we hope the FCC will not let the unjust enrichment stand.
Overturning this unfair result is one step towards addressing income inequality and combating crony capitalism. And that’s always a great campaign promise.
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