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FCC vote on telecom merger delayed again

[JURIST] The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] delayed a vote on the proposed $82.2 billion merger of BellSouth and AT&T [corporate websites] for the third time Thursday. The measure was previously delayed [JURIST report] to allow Democrats on the commission more time to study the proposal. An FCC official told Reuters that the group had made little progress in reaching a consensus.

The measure must be approved by a majority of the five FCC commissioners. Republicans hold a 3-2 majority, but Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell will abstain from voting because a conflict of interest. If a deadlock occurs, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin could petition the FCC general counsel to allow McDowell to vote.

The merger had already been approved [text] without reservation by the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division [official website] following an eight-month investigation that concluded that AT&T's proposed acquisition of BellSouth was not likely to "substantially reduce competition" in the US telecom market. Reuters has more.

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