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

“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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