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Europe Considers AOL-Time Warner Merger

Monday Business | PREVIEW

September 25, 2000|Bloomberg News

America Online Inc.'s rivals are urging European regulators to block its planned $142-billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. unless AOL offers equal access to Web sites and accepts independent arbitration of competitors' complaints. AOL largely restated previous pledges in a formal submission Friday to the European Commission, according to people who saw the proposals. Bertelsmann, Germany's top media company, would withdraw from AOL Europe, and a combined AOL-Time Warner would make its music compatible with rivals' software music player technologies, the people said, excluding other technologies that allow the transmission of movies or sports over the Web. The submission and the rivals' responses, due by today, are likely to spark negotiations that could last until Oct. 24 when the commission, the EU's executive arm, has to deliver a final ruling on the world's largest merger. But Wednesday, a committee of antitrust experts from the 15 EU governments is meeting to advise Competition Commissioner Mario Monti. European Union regulators worry that the union of the world's No. 1 Internet service and the biggest media company would dominate the market for the online sale of music, squeezing out hundreds of independent labels. In the U.S., the issues focus on opening Time Warner's cable-TV lines to companies that compete with AOL in offering high-speed online access.

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