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FTC Approves Merger of AOL and Time WarnerAired December 14, 2000 - 12:04 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you into another story now, a developing story, the FTC having approved the merger of AOL, America Online, and Time Warner, parent company of this network, Cable News Network.
We want to go to Greg Clarkin now with this story. We'll go to him in just a minute I'm told.
GREG CLARKIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basically broadening out of the agreement to open up Time Warner's high-speed cable lines to allow high-speed Internet access to other Internet service providers in addition to America Online.
Now the FTC did meet about an hour or so ago, we are told to expect a short meeting that, in speaking to antitrust experts, they said, that should lead us to believe that indeed this deal probably would be approved, that whatever agreement was struck last night with all the parties involved was enough to sway the commissioners to vote.
But again, going into this, this was an incredibly difficult vote for the FTC. One consumer advocate said he had never seen the commission so uncertain going into a major vote. But again, last night, apparently the deal was cemented with some further concessions wrung out of America Online and Time Warner about opening up those cable line.
And right now, while most of the world does get their Internet access through dial-up access, high-speed broadband lines are the way things are going. So we are hearing that, indeed, 5-0 was the vote that the FTC has confirmed, has approved rather this merger of America Online's acquisition of Time Warner, parent of this network.
We'll have more details shortly as chairman of the FTC, Robert Pitofsky, will be holding a press conference, where he will be explaining and articulating his thinking as to why the commission took the action it did take today -- Lauren.
LAUREN THIERRY, CNN ANCHOR: Greg, that is one resounding endorsement of the merger, then. Let's talk about those sort of 11th hour concessions that were made, particularly in the open access issue as you say. Some of the more skeptical folks on Wall Street just wonder if, perhaps, that the good folks at AOL and Time Warner were sort of selling the cows in order to buy the farm on this one. What are you hearing down there? CLARKIN: It is interesting, Lauren, we spoke to a lot of folks who oppose this deal, it is a fundamentally flawed deal, in that it will restrict in some way, shape, or form, the openness of the Internet.
Now we spoke to those folks this morning after seeing the word of this late agreement last night, and they were incredibly encouraged. They have yet to see the details of the deal, as any of us have, but they were encouraged by the fact that it looked like the FTC was able to kind of wring some more out of America Online and Time Warner.
That was their big concern, that other, smaller Internet service providers would, indeed, have access to those cable lines, as they become more prevalent and more used. And apparently that was enough to sway the commissioners as well.
We should point out, ahead of this agreement yesterday, yesterday at this point, basically, speaking to a lot of folks that had been lobbying the FTC here, they said their gauge of things was that one commissioner was opposed to the deal, one was in favor, and then three were right on the fence.
Whatever agreement was reached last night was enough to kind of sway some of the folks on the fence, and possibly even the commissioner who was opposed to it, but who knows exactly what happened in that commission meeting room to get that five-nothing vote.
THIERRY: All right, Greg Clarkin.
SESNO: That was Greg Clarkin, we were joining our sister network CNNfn there, obviously, for a few moments, as they're reporting from the FTC, the AOL-Time Warner merger having been approved. As I mentioned a moment ago, Time Warner, the parent company of this network, CNN.
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