FCC Postpones AT&T-BellSouth Vote


The Federal Communications Commission dropped its plan to vote Friday on AT&T’s $81 billion merger with BellSouth, the third postponement since Oct. 12.

On Thursday night, FCC chairman Kevin Martin pulled the merger vote from the agency’s Nov. 3 meeting agenda -- a sign that he failed to obtain support from one of two Democratic commissioners.

“We regret that the merger has been delayed by the self-interest of commercial entities and their litany of unreasonable demands. We look forward to the FCC’s approval so that we can get about the business of providing the overwhelming benefits the merger represents to consumers, to the economy and to the public interest,” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris said.

AT&T has made a number of concessions, including $10-per-month broadband access and deployment of broadband to every home within its 22-state service territory by Dec. 31, 2007.

Republicans hold a 3-2 numerical advantage but because Republican FCC member Robert McDowell is sitting out the merger, FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein can hold up FCC action until they are satisfied with the conditions placed on the deal.

The Justice Department approved the deal without conditions -- a result that angered Copps and Adelstein.

The FCC was originally scheduled to vote Oct. 12. But the vote was postponed to Oct. 13 and then again to Nov. 3. The agency did not announce a new date for a vote.