AOL Time Warner (NYSE:AOL) won a victory when the Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to allow AOL's Instant Messenger to transmit audio and video. The stock inched over $16 in morning trading.

The FCC reversed a condition it had imposed for approving America Online's 2001 merger with Time Warner. The commission had believed that the merged company could exercise monopoly power in the instant-messaging market if allowed to carry audio and video.

By a 3-2 party line vote, the FCC now agrees with AOL Time Warner that the competition can withstand new pressure. Chairman Michael K. Powell wrote, "The hypothesized competitive harms from the combination of AOL's internet service and Time Warner's content and broadband facilities have not materialized."

AIM still leads Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN Messenger and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Messenger, but its market share has fallen to 58.5% from 61.5% at the time of the merger, according to the FCC majority. And both competing services offer video and audio capabilities. When AOL Time Warner introduces AOL 9.0 in September, it will reportedly allow video clip attachments but not yet streaming video.

Depending on your point of view, instant messaging is either an essential tool for living or a time waster for employees. Perhaps both. But for youth, the debate ended years ago. One of our writers spent a recent vacation in a household with a teenage girl. She was mostly incognito in her room -- chatting on AIM instead of the phone. No wonder that instead of limiting phone use, parents must now limit IM time. So much so that when they appear, teens quickly type, "POS," or "parent over shoulder."

We've got EOS (editor over shoulder), so we're outta here. Have a great day.

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