Commissioner Could Be Persuaded With Some Wine Coolers And Chippendales Dancers
A Federal Communications Commission member has tentatively come out against the merger between America Online and Time Warner.

Commissioner Gloria Tristani voted against the $101 billion acquisition. Tristani wanted the FCC to attach conditions on the deal that would force AOL to make its instant messaging service compatible with rival services.

Two commissioners, Michael Powell and Harold Furchtgott-Roth, have tentatively opted for the deal without conditions. Three votes are required to approve or defeat the merger. The FCC members all have up until the fifth vote has been cast to change their minds.

While Tristani's dissent may not necessarily halt the merger, it could possibly prolong the process. The deal had been expected to pass or fail by the end of 2000—just like a lot of America's high school students.

One source said a decision on the proposed merger could come as early as Thursday (1/11).

Last month, the companies were given a green light from the Federal Trade Commission after agreeing to allow competitors access to Time Warner's cable lines.

"They're clearly deadlocked," said Andrew Schwartzman, who heads the Media Access Project which has been following the regulatory proceedings closely and pushing for conditions on the combination. "There are not three votes for anything."