The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today filed FCC comments supporting Fuse Media’s programming discrimination complaint against AT&T.
Earlier this month, Fuse filed a complaint with the FCC claiming that AT&T favors its affiliated programmers including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, HBO and CNN while refusing to engage in renewal talks with Fuse. The programmer said it is in stark contrast to years of good faith negotiations between Fuse and AT&T prior to the Time Warner acquisition. When AT&T finally did present a carriage offer, Fuse said it was “untenable and likely unserious.”
“Fuse Media is not alone in being inflicted by the same cause,” wrote the CWA in its comments. “CWA itself has experienced improper conduct in the hands of AT&T, conduct that is likewise inspired by the same misguided focus on Time WarnerMedia’s bottom line. And as with Fuse Media, this treatment is a stark departure from AT&T’s conduct toward CWA prior to its acquisition of Time Warner.”
The CWA is recommending that the FCC launch an investigation and, if it validates Fuse Media’s complaints, order AT&T to carry the programmer’s two cable networks on equitable terms.
AT&T refuted Fuse Media's claims of programming discrimination.
“We treat all programmers fairly, including Fuse. They want the FCC to order us to carry programming our customers don’t want or value. We look forward to responding," an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement.
In addition to its FCC complaint, Fuse has filed a complaint in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.
"We thank CWA for supporting our effort to maintain distribution on AT&T. Given that our audience is comprised of young, multicultural, often front-line workers such as nurses, emergency responders, teachers, and retail workers, we respect the efforts of workers who are members of CWA and other labor unions to protect themselves and improve their conditions through collective bargaining,” said Fuse in a statement. “To that end, we would remain neutral as an employer should our own workers ever decide to explore forming a union here at Fuse; and in the event that a clear majority supported unionization, we would recognize and bargain in good faith with the workers chosen representative."
The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians – Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA), a CWA affiliate, represents more than 10,000 workers in broadcasting and related industries.
This article has been updated to include a statement from AT&T.