FCC Delays AT&T/BellSouth Vote - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Delays AT&T/BellSouth Vote

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The FCC has pulled the AT&T/BellSouth merger from its Thursday meeting agenda.

Also gone is the planned launch of a notice of inquiry on network neutrality, the issue that has stalled telecommunications reform legislation in the Senate.

But the commission has only put off those two controversial items for a day.  It has scheduled another meeting for Friday, Oct. 13, where it still plans to take up both items, though that is not a certainty either.

The Justice Department Wednesday completed its review of the proposed $67 Billion merger without seeking any conditions, concluding that there were not sufficient antitrust issues to warrant them.

The FCC could be deadlocked on the merger, with Robert McDowell not participating. That leaves two Democrats and two Republicans, with the Democrats highly critical of the DOJ decision and wanting conditions on the merger.

"We are committed to evaluating merger applications fairly and in a manner consistent with the public interest," said FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin. "We are continuing to work to complete our AT&T and BellSouth merger review in a timely manner."

McDowell has been operating as though he will not vote. That's because his former employer, telecom lobby COMPTEL, has weighed in on the merger.

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