Dish is weighing three options if the Federal Communications Commission rules that its affiliates are ineligible for $3.3 billion in discounts claimed after an auction of spectrum in the US earlier this year.

The regulator reviewed $13.3 billion of winning bids by SNR and Northstar, which are both Dish affiliates. A rejection of the discount would mean they would have to pay $3.3 billion to the FCC to keep the licences won in the auction.

Dish chief Charlie Ergen told investors that the US broadcaster can respond to an FCC order by either filing a lawsuit, not paying the money and accepting a penalty, or paying back the $3.3 billion in discounts, according to Reuters.

“I don’t know exactly whether you would pay and then sue or just sue,” Ergen said. “I don’t think we know until we see the order.”

The FCC decided that Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless are ineligible for discounts relating to their applications for AWS-3 licences due to the controlling interest held by Dish. The companies received 25 per cent bidding credits which are based on revenue (approximately $1.9 billion for Northstar Wireless and $1.4 billion for SNR Wireless).

So far the FCC has only circulated a draft order internally which remains subject to change.

The order has yet to be approved by a majority of the FCC’s five commissioners, meaning Dish has yet to be formally informed of the regulator’s decision.