FCC approves AOL-Time Warner merger

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At 7:15 p.m. Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission removed the last obstacle to the AOL Time Warner merger, first announced over a year ago, by bestowing its approval.

The commission's approval was based on the fulfillment of three conditions. One was that the combined company must "interoperate" with two competing instant-messaging providers before offering advanced IM services over Time Warner cable systems, or show the commission that market conditions had changed significantly enough to not require such a measure.

The commission gave some protection for independent Internet service providers that use Time Warner's high-speed cable access, allowing independent ISPs to control the "first screen," as well as allowing those independent ISPs to directly bill those customers and mandating AOL Time Warner's technical performances do not discriminate against the independent ISPs.

The commission also addressed concerns over AT&T's existing relationship with Time Warner Entertainment by barring AOL Time Warner from entering into agreements with AT&T giving any AOL Time Warner ISP singular access to an AT&T cable systems, or that could affect AT&T's ability to offer competitive rates to unaffiliated ISPs.

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Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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