America Online (AOL) and Time Warner received conditional approval from the Federal Communications Commission last night, clearing the way for the creation of the world's largest media company and the third-largest merger in history. As a condition for the merger's approval, the FCC added some restrictions to those already stipulated by other oversight panels. The FCC beefed up requirements that the new company share its cable pipeline with competing Internet service providers, required that future broadband versions of AOL's instant messaging service work with competitors, and forced a complete severance of all links with AT&T's cable service. Reaction by consumer groups has been mixed. Some have cautiously welcomed the cable line sharing requirements as an opportunity to increase consumer choice. Others have expressed continued concern over the sheer size and market power of a company that will now control both content and conduit.
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