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Time Warner may log off AOL moniker

Online topper Miller lobbying for co. name change

When in doubt, change your name.

That’s the overwhelming opinion of many America Online and Time Warner execs and investors these days — so much so that the touchy topic of the conglom’s increasingly awkward and archaic name is back on the agenda for the company’s board meeting in September.

Time Warner loyalists have long lobbied, in not-so-delicate language, to ditch the “AOL” prefix from the venerable content house. This time, however, the push is coming from the humbled online group, including chairman Jon Miller.

Scarlet letters

Ironically, the AOLers evidently believe the company’s financial woes are tarnishing the online service’s reputation and efforts to revive the brand.

AOL Time Warner always was a loaded name. It’s slightly cumbersome, and a constant reminder of a deal gone sour from an era when Web companies could buy billion-dollar media properties with inflated stock.

Company indicated that CEO Richard Parsons is considering the request and the board will likely vote on the name change at its scheduled meeting in late September.

With no resolution in sight to the Securities & Exchange Commission’s investigation into accounting improprieties, perhaps the board will finally decide to rid itself of the tainted name.

A rose is a rose …

The AOL division, which is under pressure to revive its declining dial-up business with broadband and content, was clearly the ugly duckling among AOL Time Warner’s second-quarter financials. The division lost 846,000 subs in the quarter (45% of which were deadbeats anyway). Revenues and profit growth for the year are expected to be flat to midsingle digits at best, the company warned.

Wall Street analysts value the unit at a mere $7 billion, and investor thoughts of a spinoff last year have been replaced with the prospect of an outright sale of the unit if it can’t be turned around.