Media Access Project, or MAP, fashions itself a “non-profit law firm and advocacy organization” that works on behalf of the public “to promote freedom of expression.”  Indeed, one of MAP’s primary objectives is to protect the public’s First Amendment rights by ensuring “universal and equitable access to media outlets.”

But apparently those rights extend only to speakers with whom MAP agrees.

In yet another ironic twist in a deal that has been rife with them, MAP has now sent a letter to local broadcast station WUSA-9 to ask the station to “cease running commercials sponsored by AT&T relating to its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile.”  In short, MAP takes issue with the content of our ads, so they are asking a local broadcaster to censor them. 

The gist of MAP’s complaint is that it disagrees with our assertion that the transaction will create jobs.  In filings at the FCC, AT&T has fully explained that assertion.  AT&T has cited numerous jobs commitments that it has made, and it has documented how the number of US-based call center workers will actually increase as a result of the merger.  And it has also noted that there is broad consensus among the President, Chairman Genachowski, other FCC commissioners and even merger opponents that expanding wireless broadband services to rural America will stimulate economic growth and investment and create substantial numbers of jobs.  In fact, MAP itself has recognized the importance of ubiquitous broadband deployment to job creation, signing on to a 2008 “Statement on Proposed Broadband Principles,” which states:

“Ubiquitous access to high-speed Internet is key to solving the immense challenges currently facing our nation. High-speed Internet connectivity is essential to promote jobs in the information economy of the 21st century, ensure the competitiveness of our small and large businesses in the global economy, and create economic opportunity across the nation.”

If MAP now chooses to repudiate its past statements, and those of the Administration, by disputing the potential for AT&T’s LTE commitment to create tens of thousands of jobs, that is its right.  But the proper forum for resolving these claims is at the FCC, not the General Manager’s Office of WUSA-9.  And MAP of all organizations ought to realize that.

The Media Access Project’s campaign to suppress our ads is a misguided and misinformed attempt to deny us access to the media.   It’s also a very odd strategy for a non-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to free speech.  The strength of the First Amendment lies in the fact that it protects all speech, whether MAP agrees with the message or not.

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