US regulators delay decision on AT&T-BellSouth deal

The US Federal Communications Commission delayed a vote on the proposed buyout of BellSouth by AT&T until November 3 at the latest after two Democrats asked for time to study last-minute concessions offered by the companies, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the commission was scheduled to vote on the $80.8-billion deal in a special meeting last week that never convened.

Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein circulated a letter among reporters that said in the previous 48 hours, new proposals had been made regarding the buyout that raised 'a number of significant questions and complex technical issues for us to consider.'

They asked that the proposals, which were offered by the companies through FCC chairman Kevin Martin's office, be made available to the public, the report said.

In a letter, Martin agreed to make the proposals available for public comment for 10 days, and set a commission meeting for November 3, though the vote might come sooner and might not require a public meeting, the report said.

The proposed deal already was under fire by consumer advocates and some lawmakers who said it would go a long way toward re-establishing a communications monopoly that the government broke up more than two decades ago.

AT&T earlier released a statement saying the company would discuss adding conditions to the deal "so long as they do not affect our ability to deliver merger benefits to customers and shareowners, given the intensely competitive environment in which we operate," according to the report.

The US Justice Department approved the sale without requiring any divestment or other conditions, the report further said.