FCC's Wheeler Won't 'Hip Shoot' on AT&T-TW Merger Role

Chairman points out agency has no application before it
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FCC chairman Tom Wheeler isn't talking about the potential for the Federal Communications Commission to be reviewing the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger.

He was asked to weigh in after the FCC's public meeting Thursday (Oct. 27). Commissioners historically don't talk about merger reviews before the agency, but the merger application has yet to be filed.

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Wheeler was not talking about it anyway, pointing out there was no deal before him, though there might be -- though almost certainly he won't comment on it then, either.

"Nothing has been presented to us right now and if something is presented, we will make a decision based on the public interest," he said.

He brushed off as hypotheticals general questions about his view on vertical integration, the efficacy of behavioral versus structural conditions or what an FCC "advisory" role might be in the deal. Wheeler never answers questions he defines as hypothetical.

But he did say that in terms of whether he thought vertical integration was healthy for competition, he said: "I don't think there is any doubt about my stand on 'competition, competition, competition.' "

Asked if the FCC's hands were tied if the AT&T-TW merger did not include any license transfers, Wheeler said: "We ought to see how things develop. I'm not going to stand here and hip shoot one way or another."

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