Originally created 11/09/99

Mergers warrant scrutiny



WASHINGTON -- Faced with an unprecedented wave of mammoth mergers in the communications industry, top regulators said Monday they are watching carefully to ensure the deals don't work against consumers.

While companies say they need to merge to improve efficiency and to enter new markets, lawmakers are concerned about such deals' impact on the companies' customers.

"The average consumer doesn't always reap the benefits of lower prices and better service," Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said in opening a hearing into the matter Monday.

The number of mergers isn't necessarily the problem, FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky told the committee. It's the size of the transactions and the impact they have on how people receive, disperse and share information, he said.