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SJ Mercury/Reuters: Tribal Voice, iCast urges FCC to condition AOL deal

Sep 06, 2000, 17:17 (0 Talkback[s])

"Two of America Online Inc.'s (AOL.N) instant messaging rivals have recommended conditions regulators should place on AOL's pending merger with cable and media giant Time Warner Inc. (TWX.N) in a submission to the Federal Communications Commission. ... AOL's industry rivals have called for the company, which has a dominant position in the market, to open up its system so that rivals can also chat with AOL's users. Instant messaging lets millions of Internet subscribers swap quick messages with friends and family."

"The Dulles, Va.-based company's bid for Time Warner is drawing heightened scrutiny from regulators, especially on the issue of letting competitors use the combined company's high-speed cable lines in cities where Time Warner now operates cable television systems. On the instant messaging front, industry players caution that the pending merger could become "non-competitive and non-accessible, with higher entry barriers" unless the commission imposes necessary conditions, according to a position paper submitted to the FCC by iCast and Tribal Voice."

"They argue that the commission should require AOL-Time Warner to cease blocking the exchange of instant messaging by other providers immediately. It also recommends that regulators require the company to not provide AOLTV in Time Warner franchise areas until instant messaging is fully interoperable, noting that instant messaging is a central feature of AOL's interactive TV offering."

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