FCC chairman okays AT&T-BellSouth merger

The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission is recommending approval of AT&T's $67-billion purchase of BellSouth, people familiar with the matter, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The report said FCC chairman Kevin Martin circulated a recommendation approving the purchase without conditions, meaning a formal vote was likely to occur at the agency's October 12 meeting.

The FCC's action was unusual in that it came before the US Justice Department had reached a decision on whether the deal would adversely affect competition and possibly harm consumers, the report said.

The report said the department was still involved in challenges to two previous mega-telecom industry deals: the purchase by SBC Communications of the old AT&T, and Verizon Communications' purchase of MCI.

People who had seen the FCC document said there appeared to be no conditions on the sale, but that requirements to satisfy potential negative impacts on consumers might come later in the process, according to the report.

Those describing the document did so only on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak publicly about a regulatory matter still under way, the report said.

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