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NEWS CORP. WON’T OPPOSE
AOL-TW MERGER

Sense Of Irony Too Acute, Murdoch Refuses To Throw Stones From Inside Glass House
News Corp. said it won't join the growing number of entertainment companies lobbying against the pending AOL-Time Warner merger, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A top executive at News Corp. (parent company of the Fox Network) said the transaction should be left to the "marketplace."

In recent weeks, Walt Disney Co. (which owns ABC and ESPN among other properties) has launched an offensive opposing the merger, and NBC (owned by General Electric) has joined the fray. Both companies have impressed upon the Federal Communications Commission that "strict conditions" should be placed upon the merger.

The Journal reported on Thursday (7/27) that USA Networks Chairman Barry Diller was concerned about the deal and was weighing whether to make comments to federal regulators about it.

The FCC is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the merger today. AOL Chairman steve case',390,400);">steve case',390,400);">Steve Case and Time Warner Chairman gerald levin',390,400);">gerald levin',390,400);">Gerald Levin are set to speak, as are various industry execs who have been critical of the proposed union.

While the News Corp. comments were made by President Peter Chernin to reporters in Washington, DC, there was no further elaboration on the remarks. A senior exec did say, however, that Chernin's remarks reflect the views held by News Corp. Chairman rupert murdoch',390,400);">rupert murdoch',390,400);">Rupert Murdoch, specifically that government shouldn't interfere in business deals.

So far, Viacom (which owns CBS and UPN and is therefore the remaining major TV player to speak on the subject) hasn't weighed in with its opinion on the merger.

Disney's attack on the AOL-TW merger has drawn the ire of Time Warner execs, who characterize the lobbying of the Mouse House as "a transparent ploy to protect their own business interests and not the interests of consumers."

So effective has Disney's campaign been that it has drawn support from California's two Democratic U.S. senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein told the Federal Trade Commission that she would appreciate the FTC's "consideration of the following points made by Disney when they came to see me," without taking a position herself.

In a June 20 letter to the FTC, Boxer wrote that a number of worried corporate constituents "believe the merger would create a company so large and powerful that it could suppress competition and limit consumer choice."

And far be it from any of those other corporate giants to seek to "suppress competition" or limit "consumer choice." They would never dream of it, we're certain.

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