DOJ approves AT&T/BellSouth deal, FCC stalls

As expected, the Department of Justice approved AT&T's $67 billion acquisition of BellSouth without conditions, but the move elicited a firestorm of disapproval from Federal Communications Commission Democrats, Congressional leaders, consumer groups and smaller rivals. The FCC was supposed to vote on the deal today, but put off the vote until tomorrow without explanation. It's not clear whether the commission can get a consensus on this. FCC Democrats are staunchly opposed to the deal, with Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein calling the DOJ's decisions a "reckless abandonment" of the agency's responsibility to protect competition and consumers. The FCC's other Democrat, Michael Copps, accused the department of failing both consumers and small businesses by refusing to impose any conditions on the deal. Meanwhile, Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, is recommending approval, and he'll likely be supported by Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, also a Republican. The person who could sway the vote either way has recused himself from voting. Commissioner Robert McDowell, also a Republican, removed himself from the vote because of previous work with a trade association that fought against AT&T and BellSouth in the past.

For more about the DOJ's approval of AT&T's purchase of BellSouth and the FCC's vote delay:
- check out this article from AP
- read this article from Dow Jones

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