AOL Time Warner breaks merger decree?

  07/31/2001 3:06:17 PM MDT Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

Has AOL Time Warner broken part of their Merger Decree?
  AOL Time Warner is certainly taking parts of their Merger Decree slowly, like opening up Instant Messenging. For opening up their Cable infrastructure, they may have crossed the illegal line.

  In a recent complaint filed by consumer groups on Tuesday, they sounded the alarm over the media giant's recent attempts to qualify High Speed Access Corp. (HSA) as a "non-affiliated" ISP.

  As part of a consent decree attached to its merger clearance, AOL Time Warner must designate outside ISPs as providers of its content. Because of alleged business ties with AOL Time Warner, the consumer groups took issue with HSA's non-affiliated status which would by essence not be a "non-affilated" ISP and would mean that AOL/TW lied.

  In a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the groups run through several financial arrangements that the groups claim link HSA and AOL Time Warner. For instance, HSA has ties with Charter Communications, which has its own links to AOL Time Warner, the groups said in the letter.

  The groups have asked the FCC to require HSA and AOL Time Warner to "provide evidence that the numerous business relationships between HSA's owner and AOL Time Warner will not interfere with HSA's independence and ability to compete with AOL Time Warner's own high-speed access service," according to the letter. Lack of such evidence with proof of the tie would mean AOL Time Warner lied, and would be in violation of their merger consent decree.

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