EarthLink Wants AOL Deal Points

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A major Internet-service provider has added its voice to the debate over whether AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp. should publicly release the broadband-carriage agreement reached with AOL Time Warner Inc. last month.

EarthLink Inc. joined an array of consumer groups to call on the Federal Communications Commission to halt its 180-day review of the AT&T-Comcast merger until the carriage deal for America Online's AOL Broadband — a key element in the restructuring of Time Warner Entertainment L.P. — is made available for public review.

EarthLink, with about 5 million subscribers, is the No. 3 ISP in the country. It claims that AOL's carriage deals with Time Warner Cable and now with the post-merger AT&T Comcast Corp. will give its rival a leg up at a time when AT&T and Comcast have largely refused to sign carriage deals unaffiliated ISPs.

Last week, Comcast said it was unnecessary to disclose the AOL carriage terms and that it would resist efforts to delay the FCC's merger review. An FCC spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing EarthLink's request.

The FCC's self-imposed 180-day review period for the AT&T-Comcast merger expires on Oct. 21. The cable merger also requires Justice Department approval.

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