By Malkia Cyril
As leaders of some civil rights groups resign and withdraw their legal filings opposing the AT&T merger and network neutrality under suspicion of trading political support for the promise of jobs and donations- other national civil and human rights organizations are taking a closer look at the role big media companies play in their organizations and communities.
Latino organizations represent the fastest growing consumer base for wireless technologies- and they have a difficult choice to make. Can they afford to examine the merger on its merits, and oppose it if they find it harmful?
Despite clear evidence that the AT&T merger is the worst way to expand access, would eliminate jobs, raise prices, and harm workers who aren’t lucky enough to be unionized- some civil rights groups have still given it a thumbs up. But some Latino organizations I know and respect are doing a damn good job making sure their communities are represented as the DOJ and the FCC decide if this merger is best for America.
Recently, the National Latino Congreso, a member of Latinos for Internet Freedom (LIF), sent a letter to AT&T asking tough, but good, questions about claims that the merger will bring access and employment to Latino communities. Rather than simply pointing fingers or turning a blind eye to the facts, NLC is doing what all Latino civil rights groups should- making AT&T answer to them instead of the other way around.
In a recent blog, another LIF member, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said they were disappointed to hear of the merger- and pointed out that despite that 25% of Latinos are in poverty, they pay more for cell phones than any other demographic group. On average, they pay $104 per month.
These two leading Latino organizations oppose the merger of AT&T and T-mobile. What about you, what do you think? Will the replacement of a low-cost competitor (T-mobile) with a carrier that boasts expensive phones, a bad network, and control of more than 70% of the wireless market (AT&T) hurt or help Latino communities?