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Dingell: FCC Should Delay AT&T Vote

November 8, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ John Dingell, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Wednesday he wants the Federal Communications Commission to delay its vote on AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of BellSouth Corp.

Dingell, saying the combination raises a ``significant antitrust question, sent a letter to the FCC asking that it hold off on the vote until after the new Congress convenes in January.

``I think it would be in their interest, I think it would be in the interest of the committee, and I think it would be in the interest of the public,″ he said Wednesday.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has delayed a vote on the merger three times as he negotiates with the two Democrats on the commission over what conditions should be placed on the deal. It has not been rescheduled since the last postponement earlier this month.

The Michigan Democrat said he has been ``very helpful over the years to the different telecom companies,″ including the former Bells. ``But I remind you our duty here is not just to the Bells _ our duty is to come forward with good public policy and to see the public interest is respected.″

The FCC had no comment.

AT&T’s acquisition of BellSouth, now valued at $82.9 billion, is being called the largest telecommunications merger. The combined company would generate $117 billion in revenue and operate 68.7 million local phone lines across 22 states stretching coast to coast across the southern United States and up through the Midwest.

It would employ 309,000 people, though AT&T said it plans to eliminate up to 10,000 jobs over three years.

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