L.A. Board Backs AOL Transfer

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Los Angeles - The city's Board of Information Technology Commissioners last week recommended transferring Time Warner Cable systems here to America Online Inc.

The board added the caveat that the post-merger AOL Time Warner Inc. must live up to its promises to open up the high-speed-data platform.

Board members chided executives for objecting to the requirement, which follows a time line that AOL itself has been volunteering in Washington, D.C., as it seeks federal approval for its acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

Officials for the merged company continued to argue that local officials exceed their authority when addressing issues beyond the new owner's technical, financial and managerial competence.

The policy is still not law here. The board's recommendation must be approved by the City Council, and members there have shown little interest in regulating access. Further, AOL assumes ownership of areas initiating a renewal cycle.

The city has announced a whole series of public hearings on renewals, and Time Warner's San Pedro, Calif., operation is the topic at a May 18 hearing. That gives activists another shot at the operator during a transaction where all operating issues are on the table.