FTC delays AOL-Time Warner decision up to three weeks

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday decided to delay by up to three weeks its decision on the proposed merger between media giant Time Warner Inc. and America Online Inc. (AOL).

“The parties have committed in the last 24 hours to offer new proposals to address competitive issues in connection with the proposed merger,” the FTC said in a statement issued Thursday.

The agency voted by five votes to zero to delay the action. This isn’t the first time a decision has been delayed; several deadlines for deciding the matter have passed without resolution.

AOL and Time Warner announced plans in January for a stock-swap merger valued at the time at US$350 billion. The combined company, to be called AOL Time Warner, would have revenues of about $40 billion and a global subscriber base of more than 100 million.

The companies have been embroiled in heated debate with the FTC for several weeks over the proposed marriage. In September, the agency said it is concerned that the merger could harm competition in the market for Internet access. The FTC reportedly wants to ensure that the post-merger giant will open access to its high-speed cable lines to competing Internet access providers.

AOL, in Dulles, Virginia, can be reached at http://www.aol.com/. Time Warner, in New York, is at http://www.timewarner.com/. The Federal Trade Commission, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at http://www.ftc.gov/.