We’ve shared our thoughts on the proposed AT&T+ T-Mobile merger before, and you’ve heard from bands like Ozomatli on why it’s bad news for artists. To make the message extra-clear, we recently released a pair of issue briefs with the Center for Media Justice (CMJ) on how the merger would negatively impact creators, entrepreneurs and the public.
FMC and CMJ are concerned with creators not having affordable access to the online tools and collaborative space enabled by wireless networks. As we’re fond of pointing out, today’s artists depend on the internet for pretty much everything, and it doesn’t stop at the desktop. In fact, it’s safe to say that the future of music is mobile. It’s an increasingly crucial part of how musicians and other creators are reaching audiences, managing their careers and collaborating with other artists.
As our briefs point out, a combined AT&T + T-Mobile would mean that just a few companies would control access and innovation on the mobile web. Price is another concern: the loss of lower-cost competitor T-Mobile would affect many Americans who rely on the company as an alternative to more pricey providers (like AT&T).
Our concerns about the merger extend beyond money and availability. AT&T’s support of a no-rules environment for mobile broadband means the company is primed to favor certain content (like that of its big-money partners) over that of creative entrepreneurs and innovators. Then there are issues of free expression. You may recall an incident back in 2007 when AT&T censored a live Pearl Jam performance after singer Eddie Vedder made a few critical remarks about then-president George W. Bush. The company had the exclusive right to webcast the Lollapalooza festival where PJ was performing, which shows what can happen when big companies have the sole authority to decide what should and shouldn’t be communicated online.
What’s to stop AT&T from raising rates and restricting content on its network post-merger? Not much, given that the combined company would control nearly half of the wireless market in the United States. With the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice currently reviewing the merger, the time is now to speak up.
So what can musicians and other creatives do? Well, for starters, check out our issue briefs for a point-by-point primer on the issue. We also give some tips on how you can engage. And keep your eyes right here for more info on where all this might be heading.