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Kennard: Merger permit was a `mistake'

Allowing corporations to integrate media content and distribution was one of
the biggest mistakes of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and subsequent Federal
Communications Commission deregulation, former agency chairman William Kennard
said Friday.

"There was tremendous pressure on policymakers to consolidate these markets,"
Kennard told the Media Access Project, kicking off a lecture series commemorating
the public-advocacy group's 30th anniversary.

Kennard also said the "euphoric period of belief in converged networks"
culminated with the merger of America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc., the benefits of
which were "oversold to regulators and oversold to shareholders."

Kennard pointed out
that the company's depressed stock price and management turmoil are symptoms of
the classic boom, bust and renaissance cyclic exhibited by every major new
technology since the railroads.