The Federal Trade Commission today announced it has appointed Dale Hatfield, a telecommunications consultant from Boulder, Colorado, as the monitor trustee in the America Online ("AOL")/Time Warner merger. The Commission has also approved a trustee agreement between Hatfield and AOL that gives Hatfield the powers, rights and responsibilities necessary to discharge this function.
Under the proposed consent order signed by the parties and accepted for public comment on December 14, 2000, the Commission may appoint a monitor trustee, subject to the consent of the respondents, to monitor the respondent parties' compliance with the order for its five-year duration. The monitor's duties and responsibilities are detailed in Section V of the order. This is only the most recent time the Commission has used a monitor trustee to scrutinize a party's compliance with complicated technical requirements; the Commission has named more than two dozen monitor trustees to ensure compliance with consent orders. The Commission vote to appoint Hatfield monitor was 5-0.
Hatfield recently retired from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to restart his consulting firm, which he had left in 1997 when he rejoined the FCC as Chief Technologist in the Office of Plans and Policy. In July 1998 he was appointed Chief of the Office on Engineering and Technology at the FCC, where he continued until his retirement in December 2000. He has held other positions at both the Department of Commerce and the FCC. He is a trained and experienced engineer with expertise in cable, computer and Internet technology, including the technology involved in interactive television.