FCC Again Delays AT&T/Bell South Vote

The Federal Communications Commission has once again delayed its vote on AT&T's $82 billion merger with BellSouth Corp., with Chairman Kevin Martin admitting that negotiations are not progressing as fast as expected.

"We have made progress," Martin told reporters after publicly meeting with other FCC commissioners. "I always try to work with my colleagues, but I think we're still pretty far apart and I think the progress has slowed."

Martin and his fellow Republican commissioner, Deborah Taylor Tate, are having trouble reaching a deal with Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps., two Democratic FCC members who favor putting a greater number of conditions on the merger's approval.

If this deadlock continues, Martin is open to the idea of obtaining a ruling from the FCC's general counsel that would allow Robert McDowell, another Republican who is sitting out because of his previous involvement with AT&T's competitors, to vote on the issue.

"I've been focused up until now, up until today, on just trying to make sure that we work through all the different alternatives that any of the commissioners have proposed," Martin said. "We're going to continue to end up doing that; but we do have to take a step back and try to figure where we should end up going from here."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press News Wire

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