A Real Test For Trustbusters

The scale of the AOL Time Warner deal is mind-boggling

As Internet powerhouse America Online Inc. prepares to tie the knot with media giant Time Warner Inc., regulators are champing at the bit to set ground rules for the first true marriage of Old Economy and New Economy. The $183 billion deal is "the first merger of TV with the Internet," says Blair Levin, former Federal Communications Commission chief of staff who now represents tiny AOL rival iCast Corp. in Woburn, Mass. "It presents the regulators with unprecedented issues involving convergence." Neither a cable company nor an Internet company, the new AOL Time Warner is a hybrid, and regulators must figure out whether old or new rules should apply--or no rules at all.

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