FCC Schedules Vote on AT&T /BellSouth Merger

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The FCC has scheduled a vote for the BellSouth/AT&T merger for its Oct. 12 meeting.

Chairman Kevin Martin had said he hoped to be able to vote on the merger by then since the commission's 180-day shot clock for considering merger expires in the middle of the month.

At press time the office of FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell had not returned a call, but he has been operating as though he would not be able to vote on the merger since he came to the FCC from Comptel, the telecommunications lobby that has weighed in on the deal.

If he can't vote, that leaves the commission at two Democrats and two Republicans apiece.

That could mean either there could be conditions on the merger sufficient to pick off one or both of the Democrats, or that the vote was scheduled in hopes of being able to do some last-minute negotiating on conditions.

When the FCC approved the Adelphia takeover, that meeting was delayed several hours as commissioners continued to work to hammer out an order. The item could also be pulled anytime up to the even of the meeting.

The Justice Department has yet to conclude its review of the deal and a Justice Department anti-trust division spokeswoman could not provide a timetable for completion.

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