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FTC trouble nobbling AOL's instant messaging

Time Warner purchase looks safe, FCC still in the wings though

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The Federal Trade Commission looks as though it will be unable to force AOL to open blocks to its instant messaging system - even if it wanted to. The FTC is investigating the proposed merger between AOL and Time Warner and had been asked to look at possible anti-competitive behaviour by AOL in the IM market.

AOL owns 80 per cent of the market and has refused to allow competitors' offerings to work with its software. However, because the system is free, the legal stance is that there is no business market associated with it and so the FTC is unable to make a decision regarding it.

AOL isn't out the woods yet though. The Federal Communications Commission is also investigating AOL's behaviour. It should have freer reign in decided AOL's fate. ®

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