December 20, 2011 – The Media Action Grassroots Network is excited to celebrate a major victory for media justice advocates and communities across the country. Yesterday, AT&T announced that they would be dropping its bid to takeover T-Mobile at a price tag of $39 billion.
The proposed merger met with resistance from the Federal Communications Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and members of Congress, who all expressed concerns that AT&T’s plans were not in the public interest. But without question, this hard-fought victory was due to months of work by grassroots organizations that knew from the beginning that more mergers would mean more problems for everyday people. "The now defunct merger had little to do with basic cell phone services in this U.S. This bid was about how generations of community would access the Internet,” says DeAnne Cuellar, Executive Director of Media Justice League. “We're pleased that millions of South Texans will enter the new year with more, instead of fewer, options to access mobile broadband."
Community members raised the alarm all over the country that consolidating two of the four major cell phone carriers would result in less competition, fewer options and higher prices for the 99%. “We are inspired by the voice and actions of so many within our communities that rose up as a collective force to help push federal officials to act in the public interest,” Carlos Pareja, Training and Policy Director for People’s Production House said. “We must continue the struggle so that our cellular airwaves are recognized as the public spaces and virtual town squares they are. We’ve seen how the only unfiltered story may be a livestream from a cell phone. What we hold in our hands therefore must be recognized as an instrument that supports democracy and free speech. This move to maintain more diversity in the cell phone market is a positive step in that direction.”
Danielle Mkali Media Justice Organizer of Main Street Project says, "the hard working families, low income folks, people of color and T-mobile employees that risked job losses here in Minnesota join the country in celebrating the failure of the AT&T T-mobile merger. Minnesota recognizes that this duoply would have hurt our democracy, pocketbooks and options for cellphone service." Bryan Mercer, Digital Media Director of Media Policy Project adds, ""Media Mobilizing Project is excited for this victory. AT&T's plans to merge with T-Mobile threatened mass layoffs and the hard won working conditions of union members. The consistent advocacy of media justice allies around the country helped ensure the FCC made the right decision to protect consumer rights against media consolidation."
Had the merger gone through, not only would consumers have gotten the short end of the stick, so would’ve thousands of T-Mobile employees. Betty Yu, National Organizer for the Center for Media Justice explains, “AT&T tried to fool people into thinking that they would be bringing more jobs and opportunities to the American public, but mergers with few- if any- exceptions equal job losses, not job gains. The reality is that thousands of jobs would’ve been gone, and the 40,000 T-Mobile workers with no union protected rights were the ones that would’ve been first on the chopping block.”
This holiday season, millions of people across the country will not be blind-sided by high phone bills, and T-Mobile employees will get to keep their jobs. But Andrea Quijada, the Executive Director of Media Literacy Project warns, “the end of AT&T’s campaign to eliminate mobile competition and jobs is a gift to working class New Mexican families this holiday season. However, we know that this decision was not the result of AT&T putting people before profit. This result was won by media justice advocates and our allies in New Mexico and nationwide. Though we are certain this is not the last we’ve heard from AT&T/T-Mobile, we want to take a moment to acknowledge this victory for consumers.
The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) is a local-to-local advocacy network of over 100 grassroots community organizations working together for media change to end poverty, eliminate racism, and ensure human rights.