Senators Upset with Powell's Comments


Two key Senators said Tuesday that they were disappointed that Federal
Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell believes a Baby Bell phone
company might be allowed to merge with troubled long-distance carrier WorldCom

In a letter to Powell, Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said
they did not believe WorldCom's financial problems justified a merger with a
Bell company.

'We do not believe such consolidation furthers the goals of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996,' the lawmakers said in a two-page letter. Kohl
and DeWine head the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Business
and Consumer Rights.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal quoted Powell as saying that the
telecommunications sector was in 'utter crisis' and indicating that WorldCom's
condition might allow it to merge with a Baby Bell -- a combination former FCC
chairman Reed Hundt once called 'unthinkable.'

At a press briefing Tuesday, Powell said his suggestion that a WorldCom-Baby
Bell merger was possible was not an attempt to break new ground in terms of

He added that Qwest Communications International Inc. merged with U S West
Inc. and Bell Atlantic Corp. merged with GTE Corp. in deals that brought
together local and long-distance companies to some extent.