Hollings Kills DOJ-FTC Merger Agreement

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Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) scored a victory late Monday when the Department
of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission killed a merger-review agreement
unveiled just two months ago.

Hollings blasted the agreement because it called on the DOJ to handle all
media mergers. Before the agencies reached the agreement in March, the DOJ had
already been assigned the AT&T Broadband merger with Comcast Corp. and the
EchoStar Communications Corp. merger with DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics
Corp.

In a statement, Charles James, chief of the DOJ's antitrust division,
acknowledged that Hollings' threats to cut the department's budget prompted his
decision to back out of the agreement he reached with FTC chairman Timothy
Muris.

'I think it's appropriate that they abandoned this agreement,' Hollings said
after receiving letters from James and Muris. 'The FTC has broad discretion to
protect consumers in merger reviews, whereas the Justice Department is looking
for crime. The FTC protects the public interest.'

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