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December 18, 2006

AT&T-BellSouth talks: Back to the drawing board

Steve Rosenbush

It's going to be a long, cold winter in San Antonio. Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has told Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that he won't break the FCC's 2-2 deadlock on AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth. McDowell, who once worked for companies that compete with AT&T, recused himself from deliberations after the deal was announced. Martin tried to bring McDowell into the fray, (link) but the government Ethics Office looked askance, and McDowell decided to leave well enough alone, according to regulatory analyst Blair Levin, of researcher Stifel & Co. Good for McDowell. Had he "unrecused" himself just to assure the quick approval of the deal, the decision would have sparked legitimate political outrage. The deal is likely to get done, but the timing and nature of the conditions are going to change. "The endgame is unclear," Levin says.

It seems to me the current impasse is a result of the Nov. 7 general election. Given the current political climate, the Republicans simply didn't have the political power to bring about a vote by the end of December.

05:20 PM


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