America Online Inc. and Time
Warner Inc. pledged on Tuesday to open their cable
television systems to other Internet service providers after
completion of their proposed merger.
The companies said they had signed a memorandum of
understanding that set a framework under which they would let
customers choose from several Internet service providers,
including AOL, on Time Warner's broadband cable systems.
The statement said the memorandum was a "first step" to
provide more detail on how the combined companies would put
"open access" into effect on their broadband cable systems and
give consumers choices in Internet service providers.
AOL, the No. 1 Internet service provider, said last month it
would buy Time Warner, the world's biggest media company, for
stock in the biggest-ever merger. The value of the deal has
swung from a high of $190 billion as the prices of shares have
fluctuated and on Monday was worth about $138 billion.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin an
afternoon hearing on the deal on Tuesday.