Barton Wants FCC to Move Forward with AT&T/Bell South Merger

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) wants the FCC to get on with approving the AT&T/Bell South merger--and without any general conditions.

In a statement he said he was confident Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell's decision would have been fair, and now that he had decided not to vote on the merger the four commissioners need to put the pedal to the metal.

"While I remain confident that Commissioner McDowell would have rendered an unbiased decision, I respect his choice not to participate," said Barton,"The other commissioners must now complete their review without imposing conditions not rooted in the specifics of the transaction."

Barton says the merger will create video and broadband competition and urged the commission to "bring its review to a close rather than delay these consumer benefits."

It is unclear when the FCC will vote on the merger. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has tried three times to schedule the item, but has had to pull it all three times without McDowell to break a 2-2 tie rooted in commission Democrats desire for conditions to insure competition and cover public interest concerns.

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