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Dingell to FCC: wait on approval of AT&T/BellSouth merger

November 14, 2006

Although he won't be chair of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee for another seven weeks, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is already giving some strong indications about how telecommunications policy issues will fare under his gavelship.

The day after it became apparent the Democrats would take ove the House, there was Dingell at a press conference, telling anyone who would listen that he'd really, really appreciate it if the FCC would kiindly hold off on approving the AT&T-BellSouth merger until January.

Thus far, the FCC has been deadlocked 2-2. The fifth vote- a presumed pro-merger assent by Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, has been delayed due to his recusion on the grounds that he once worked for opponents of the merger.

Current FCC Chair Kevin Martin is pushing hard forMcDowell to get with the program already. But not if Dingell has his ways of persuasion with Martin.

When reporters asked Dingell if he wants the FCC to hold off their approval, Dingell said, "I would think it would be in their interest, I think it would be in the interest of the committee, and in the broad public interest."

We'll see if the Holidays get here before Martin's powers of persuasion (FCC chairs have that) convinces McDowell to bend.

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