Artist-friendly documents describe dangers of the proposed merger to creative communities, including musicians

06.20.2011 – Oakland, CA and Washington, D.C.— 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 Future of Music Coalition (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.

“We’re thrilled to once again work with the Center for Media Justice to help bring an important issue to the attention of today’s creative communities,” says FMC Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter. “These joint briefs should help musicians and other creators see more clearly how the proposed merger would put limits on expression and impact how artists reach audiences and make a living.” 

"The free flow of ideas, creativity, information, and entrepreneurship is essential to our democracy and economy," says Grassroots Policy Director amalia deloney. "As the DOJ looks at the proposed merger, they need to hear from all potentially impacted sectors. Together with FMC we're working to provide the information and tools necessary to engage members of the artistic community."

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.

About the Center for Media Justice

Founded in 2002, the Center for Media Justice is a dynamic progressive communications strategy and media policy tank for grassroots organizations serving communities of color and America’s poor. Its mission is to create media and cultural conditions that strengthen movements for racial justice, economic equity and human rights.

About Future of Music Coalition

Future of Music Coalition is a national non-profit education, research and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups.


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