AOL Time Warner considers dropping 'AOL' from name

Tuesday, August 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ America Online is asking AOL Time Warner Inc. to drop ``AOL'' from its name, concerned that negative publicity about the parent company is hurting the online service's efforts to right itself.

Jonathan Miller, chief executive of America Online, told his staff in an e-mail Monday that ``AOL'' the online service was becoming confused with ``AOL'' as shorthand for the world's largest media company.

``I believe it's time for us to get our brand back,'' Miller said in his note. ``Any controversy or criticism involving the corporate entity has actually hit our consumer brand.''

Executives from the Time Warner side of the company have been agitating for just such a change for months, but Miller stressed that it was his idea to propose it to AOL Time Warner chief executive Richard Parsons.

Mia Carbonell, a spokeswoman for AOL Time Warner, said Parsons and other senior managers were considering Miller's proposal but that the final decision would be up to the company's board.

The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on its Web site.

AOL Time Warner's name has been tarnished as the Securities and Exchange Commission investigates numerous accounting issues, mainly at the AOL division. The company has also been hit with numerous shareholder lawsuits that accuse AOL Time Warner of misleading investors.

America Online has been struggling to turn itself around as dial-up subscribers abandon the service for faster ways to connect to the Internet.

If the AOL name is dropped, it would represent the latest retreat from the lofty goals of the deal announced in January 2000 under which AOL agreed to purchase Time Warner.

Since then, several senior managers from the AOL side of the company have left or lost power, and veterans from Time Warner including Parsons are firmly in control.