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AT&T Wins Reprieve on Asset Sale

March 17, 2001|From Bloomberg News

AT&T Corp., which had exceeded U.S. limits on cable television ownership, won temporary relief Friday from federal deadlines to sell some assets, a decision that could be worth billions of dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission granted the No. 1 cable TV operator's request to lift deadlines for either selling a 25.5% stake in Time Warner Entertainment or spinning off its interest in Liberty Media Group. That puts AT&T in a better bargaining position to shed the assets. AT&T officials asked the FCC to suspend the deadlines because the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia threw out the FCC's 30% cable ownership limit March 2.

The FCC ordered AT&T to shed assets when its purchase of MediaOne Group Inc. gave it access to 40% of pay-TV homes.

"It is only prudent for the commission to suspend its enforcement of the condition until it has adequate time to carefully consider the impact of the court's decision on the condition," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement.

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