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AT&T's Holiday Hopes

It believes its BellSouth deal could get approval this month.


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is still hoping to get its merger with



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done this year.

Speaking at a Credit Suisse media and telecom event at New York's posh Crowne Plaza hotel, finance chief Rick Lindner says the Federal Communications Commission is set to meet Dec. 20. He thinks the merger could get approved then.

"Our goal would be to have an approval on the 20th," said Lindner. "If not it will slip into January."

The FCC appeared set to approve the deal last month, but a standoff has developed between the commission's two Republican and two Democratic members. Commissioner Bob McDowell has recused himself from the decision because he had ties to an industry group.

FCC Chief Kevin Martin, a Republican, has been working to tip the balance toward approval.

Shares rose a dime Tuesday to $34.24.