The Center for Media Justice (CMJ) — a grassroots media policy organization working to strengthen movements for racial justice, economic equity, and human rights — has teamed up with FMC — a national non-profit research, education and advocacy organization for musicians — to issue a pair of informational briefs regarding the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.
AT&T is currently seeking government approval to buy T-Mobile, which would give one company nearly half of the wireless market in the United States. The briefs describe the negative impact the merger would have on innovation, creativity and speech, while providing creative communities a way to better understand and engage on the issue.
Today’s creators depend on access and innovation online — from digital music services, fan management tools and social networks to the ever-growing world of mobile apps. This is why it is so important to make sure that mobile platform remains accessible to creative entrepreneurs. With greater concentration in the wireless sector, just a few providers would be able to act as gatekeepers to an increasingly crucial marketplace. The elimination of a lower-cost provider (T-Mobile) would also negatively impact millions of Americans who may not be able to afford service from AT&T, a company notorious for high prices and exclusive handset arrangements.
Creators have other reasons to be concerned about the merger. AT&T has a troubling record on free expression and openness. In 2007, the company censored a live webcast of the Lollapalooza festival over political lyrics by Pearl Jam. AT&T has also fought for (and achieved) a rules-free environment when it comes to content discrimination via the mobile web. A combined company would have even more incentive to charge big money for access to its networks or favor certain content at the expense of others. This could price many creative entrepreneurs out of the marketplace and set artificial limits on expression.
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