NAACP endorses AT&T deal
NAACP & Minority Media and Telecommunications Council says AT&T/T-Mobile deal would benefit minority Americans
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the nation’s leading civil-rights advocate on communications issues, has endorsed AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile USA.
A coalition of civil rights and intergovernmental organizations led by the NAACP, 100 Black Men, NNPA and National Coalition of Black Civic Participation also announced its support.
MMTC said its analysis found that the AT&T/T-Mobile merger would:
• Benefit minority broadband consumers by allowing AT&T to address capacity constraints. This will “alleviate the pressures that could drive prices up, drive down minority adoption, and widen the digital divide,” MMTC said.
• Benefit minority telecommunications workers. “AT&T has an extraordinary track record of minority hiring and promotion, diversity best practices, and neutrality towards unionization,” MMTC told the FCC.
• Benefit minority entrepreneurs. “AT&T has the strongest minority procurement program in the wireless industry,” MMTC said.
MMTC’s support for the AT&T – T-Mobile combination is MMTC’s only endorsement of a merger in its 25-year history. Though MMTC remains opposed to consolidation of ownership of communications out of concern for loss of diversity and diminished need for innovation, the advocacy group told the FCC that in this case the potential gains for minority communities were “truly compelling.”
The group sees closing the broadband adoption as the nation’s top national priority. It believes that the AT&T/T-Mobile merger will help communities and the country reach that goal by providing additional capacity, especially in large majority-minority cities. This extra capacity will allow for expansion of service and help keep costs under control.
MMTC gave AT&T high marks for its record on hiring and said the company “stands at the top of American industry in its service to minority communities and commitment to diversity best practices.”
In past mergers, AT&T has extended its own diversity policies to the acquired companies, and AT&T has promised to do so in this case as well. “Given AT&T’s diversity bonafides,” MMTC told the FCC, “minority consumers, telecom workers, and entrepreneurs all stand to benefit from the merger.”
The analysis by MMTC also found that AT&T has a strong record on making purchases through minority-owned supplier companies.
In 2010, the company spent more than $9 billion on goods and services through businesses owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans. “The merger promises to extend AT&T’s outstanding diversity and procurement record to the T-Mobile assets,” MMTC said, “and it will create extensive opportunities for diverse businesses to participate in AT&T’s buildout of the nationwide LTE [long-term evolution] network made possible by the merger.”
AT&T announced in March its intentions to purchase T-Mobile USA from its German parent, Deutsche Telekom. It is a huge deal — $39 billion in stocks and cash — and would create the nation’s largest wireless provider, with 130 million subscribers.
The scope of the purchase, and its potential impact, has generated concerns, and Congress is holding hearings on the merger. But AT&T’s record on minority hiring and purchasing, and the potential impact the merger could have on wireless access for minority customers, has drawn support from prominent civil-rights organizations.
“The merger of AT&T with T-Mobile USA stands to bring some much-needed relief to the African American community by helping to close the digital divide and increasing access to vital services in urban and rural communities,” Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy for the NAACP, wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The coalition of African American organizations told the FCC that the AT&T/T-Mobile deal would bring wireless Internet access to areas now lacking broadband, would keep costs down and would create new jobs nationwide.
Additional support for the merger is anticipated from other national minority organizations. [WE] will report on these developments as they happen.