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FCC Meeting Delayed Until Monday

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin postponed Friday’s originally scheduled public meeting a third time, with the agency now planning to meet sometime Monday to announce action on SBC Communications Inc.’s merger with AT&T Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.’s takeover of MCI Inc.

The agency meets once monthly, usually a Thursday morning at 9:30. Martin originally moved Friday’s meeting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then to 5 p.m. -- perhaps a sign that he’s having difficulty gaining a majority to approve the mergers.

Because the FCC is short one commissioner, the agency is evenly divided between two Republicans and two Democrats. Martin, a Republican, needs one of the Democrats to craft a majority. In that situation, the Democrats have leverage to extract merger conditions in high-level talks with Martin's office and the companies.

The Department of Justice approved both mergers Thursday on the condition that SBC and Verizon divest fiber-optic-network facilities serving businesses customers in hundreds of building in 19 metropolitan areas.

An FCC official, speaking not for attribution, said FCC Democrats had been pushing for a naked-digital-subscriber-line requirement -- something the DOJ did not impose. Such a condition would require the sale of DSL unbundled from local phone service.