AOL, Time Warner chiefs try to placate Senate panel
- By Judi Hasson
- Feb 29, 2000
Bigger is better — at least in the mega-merger of America Online and Time
The companies told the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on Tuesday
that their consolidation and collaboration would not hurt the public. In
fact, their CEOs said, it would open doors for consumers in ways never seen
before and give them new goods and services at better prices.
The two CEOs pointed to a new agreement between AOL and Time Warner to open
their cable TV systems to other Internet service providers when their deal
is completed. The pledge could press the rest of the industry to follow
suit, giving consumers more choices. It was disclosed only hours before
the congressional hearing to explore the public policy implications of the
"We see this as more than a merger of companies. We see it as a merger of
ideas — a shared commitment to empower consumers, communities, families
and citizens — expanding their choices, bringing more value into their lives
and building a global medium that benefits society," said Steve Case, CEO
Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin testified at the hearing that the AOL-Time
Warner merger is only the first in a line of business realignments as a
result of the Internet. "If we do it right, we will add new dimensions to
our economy and our democracy," Levin said.
Nevertheless, members of the panel were skeptical about the latest twist
in the $138 billion deal.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said a degree of
"healthy skepticism is in order given what is at stake here."
And Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said: "Our job is to make sure that [AOL and
Time Warner] have a fair opportunity to pursue their vision. But we must
be equally careful to make sure that others have a fair opportunity to pursue
their visions as well."