Commentary: Who Will Watch Aol's Watchdog?

The FTC trustee will have fingers in every pie

The Federal Trade Commission may have approved the blockbuster merger of new- and old-media giants America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc. last month, but behind the scenes the commissioners clearly had their doubts. Historically, they have often O.K.'d such megadeals, but require that overlapping businesses be sold off. In this case, no divestiture made sense, so their only choice--short of blocking the deal outright in court--was to impose a set of requirements that comes uncomfortably close to direct regulation of the company. "There's an awful lot of policing in this document," says Commissioner Moselle Thompson. "And we don't normally do that."

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