Parsons Pushes for New FCC Member (1 Viewer)

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Atlanta -- Time Warner Inc. hopes a Republican majority emerges at the Federal Communications Commission before the company asks the agency to finish its review of the acquisition of bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp.

"We felt it would be wise and probably in the best interests of us to have a full FCC panel to consider the merger. That may not be the case at the end of the day, but we're hoping that it is," Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard Parsons said at a National Show press conference here Monday.

Time Warner and Comcast Corp. have agreed to pay $17.6 billion in cash and stock to acquire Adelphia's 5 million subscribers. In addition to FCC approval, the deal needs the approval of the bankruptcy court.

The Federal Trade Commission approved the merger in February without conditions, but that agency has a 3-2 Republican majority. The FCC -- evenly divided 2-2 between Republicans and Democrats since March 2005 -- has had the cable deal under review for more than 300 days, making it one of the most prolonged cable mergers at the commission in recent memory.

Last month, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said he has told every company with a pending merger that it could elect to have the FCC process the deal now with four commissioners or wait until a fifth commissioner has been seated.

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, at the same press conference with Parsons, indicated that the timing of FCC action on the Adelphia deal was the FCC's prerogative.

"I don't think it's really up to us. I think it's up to the FCC to act when they choose to act," Roberts said.

President Bush has nominated Republican attorney Robert McDowell for the FCC, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is blocking McDowell's confirmation until the White House commits more money to rebuild Louisiana levees destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Parson said that if McDowell is not confirmed within three or four weeks, he will need to ask the FCC to proceed with four commissioners.

"We'll bring it to the FCC before zero hour, which is when the bankruptcy court is ready to act," he said. "If there is no five, we'll have to go with four."

Last fall, the FCC approved SBC Communications Inc.'s merger with AT&T Corp., but it required the new company (now AT&T Inc.) to comply with Internet-nondiscrimination rules for two years. AT&T, also for two years, has to offer digital-subscriber-line service to consumers on a stand-alone basis.

Asked if Time Warner could accept similar conditions, Parsons said, "We'll have to take our chances and see what happens."

On July 31, Time Warner and Comcast can walk away from the Adelphia deal if has not been approved by the FCC and the bankruptcy judge.

Parsons said he expects the bankruptcy proceedings to end “on or before the drop-dead date."

http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6323672.html?display=Breaking+News&referral=SUPP&nid=2226
 

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