WASHINGTON The Senate Judiciary Committee said
on Wednesday it would review America Online Inc.'s proposed $163
billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. and its potential effects
The companies announced on Monday that AOL, the world's top
Internet service provider, would buy Time Warner, the world's
largest media company, in a stock transaction.
Experts do not expect serious antitrust problems, but
consumers groups are opposing the deal.
Staff members from the Senate panel met on Wednesday with
representatives of both companies to discuss "the implication
for consumers and competition in the Internet market of their
"The discussions regarding this significant and complex
deal were helpful and productive," Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah
Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the
ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy of
Vermont, said in a joint statement.
The committee's hearings will examine "open access" of
broadband infrastructure; Internet music delivery services;
content cul-de-sacs; consumer choice with respect to content;
concentration and competition in the Internet service provider
market; and the consequences for innovation in both Internet
technology and services.
"As we see the landscape change at Internet speed, we need
to ensure that we don't have an environment like that in which
we found ourselves at the beginning of the last century; one
which was dominated by oil barons and railroads, and ultimately
resulted in heavy-handed regulation," Hatch said in a
Hatch said on Monday the deal would have "profound public
policy implications" and called for caution before embracing
Leahy added, "An element of caution is only prudent given
the scope and impact of this planned merger."
"What we should do is make sure that all that information
does not become funneled and controlled by just two or three
sources," he said.