Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Phone Giant CEO Hails Prospects for Merger

Richard P. Merryweather

Watch Our Exclusive Interview with Richard P. Merryweather, President and CEO of CT&T Com

Part I: 'Merger and Me'
Part II: 'Money Well Spent'

On the eve of the merger of the first and third largest phone companies, we sat down for a frank discussion with the mastermind behind the deal.

Moments after our meeting with CT&T Com's CEO Richard P. Merryweather, the Department of Justice green-lighted his company's plans to gobble up NorthBell -- a $78 billion deal that would create a communications colossus with access to more than 50% of the U.S. market.

Merryweather's merger goes before the Federal Communications Commission tomorrow, when it's expected to receive a favorable review from agency Chairman Kevin J. Martin. If approved, the deal would effectively re-assemble the Ma Bell monopoly that ruled our nation's communications industry for several decades.

But the merger isn't without its detractors. FCC commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, called the Justice rubber stamp of CT&T Com's merger “a reckless abandonment of DoJ’s responsibility to protection competition and consumers.”

Public interest advocates at Free Press, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America said that it is now "imperative" that the FCC add conditions to the merger, such as network neutrality -- the longstanding principle that prevents phone companies from controlling what users do, where they go and what they see on the Internet.

"The government has been deceived before by false promises that mergers of potential competitors benefit the public," said Mark Cooper, research director for Consumer Federation of America. "It should not be fooled again."

Critics 'Whiny'

"Who could possible think that a bigger CT&T Com could be bad," Merryweather told

"This merger will bring convergence and innovation to American consumers as fast as you can say 'massive vertically integrated telephone monopoly.'"

Merryweather spoke about the work being done in CT&T Com research and development laboratories to find "new and exciting ways to repackage plain old telephone services and unreliable broadband connections so they look exciting and new."

"Competition has taught us that we must be innovative at re-branding old services in order to charge the highest possible prices. This merger will make that easier for us."

Merryweather said that public advocates and "renegade members of the FCC" who criticize the merger were "living in the past."

Merryweather praised CT&T Com's "Pay Us Twice" plan as an alternative to network neutrality. "With Net Neutrality the Internet is just too complicated," he said. "With CT&T Com's 'Pay Us Twice' and middleman services, we'll ensure that we make lots of money.

Under the rule of CEO Merryweather, CT&T Com is leading the effort to rid the books of network neutrality protections.

Soon all digital media -- telephone, TV, radio and the Web -- will enter homes via a single broadband connection. Merryweather is seeking to control this "pipe" -- and the billions of dollars at stake -- by erecting new Internet toll booths and serving only those Web sites that can afford CT&T Com's special service fees.

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