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Publication Citation

49 Federal Communications Law Journal 457 (1997)


The 1996 Telecommunications Act is a return to competition in telephony which existed at the beginning of the century. The enactment of the '96 Act will significantly change the application of the antitrust laws to communications activities. Prior to the enactment of the '96 Act, telecommunications companies were somewhat immunized from full application of the antitrust laws regarding mergers and acquisitions because of regulation by the Federal Communications Commission and the state public utility commissions. Now, telephone companies will be fully subject to antitrust scrutiny under three schemes: the Clayton Act, the Hart-Scott- Rodino Act, and the FCC public interest standard. The result is that parties seeking to merge or acquire a telecommunications company could find themselves in three separate venues with three separate standards. The 1996 act also preempts some state regulation of intrastate telephony. This may be unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment.