News Analysis: The relentless series of AT&T commercials stating there will be huge job growth if its buyout of T-Mobile is allowed to go through is drawing fire from opponents who contend the claims are false.
WASHINGTON - The steady
drumbeat of advertisements by AT&T claiming huge job growth if the merger
with T-Mobile is allowed to go through is impossible to escape in Washington.
The ads appear daily in
everything from newspapers to bus signs to broadcast commercials. Each time,
the claim is the same-if AT&T
is allowed to acquire T-Mobile
, it will result in 96,000 new jobs, plus 5,000
jobs brought back to the U.S. from overseas. The ad seems to imply that
AT&T will help spur job growth in the struggling U.S. economy to an extent
that even the government can't manage.
Of course, if you read the
fine print that accompanies these ads, you'll see that most of those numbers
are highly speculative, but the ads trumpet them nonetheless. Now, an
economic study, sponsored by mobile competitor Sprint
but carried out by
David Neumark, professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine,
The study says that contrary
to its claims, AT&T's merger with T-Mobile will almost certainly result in
the loss of thousands of jobs as redundancies are eliminated, staff streamlined
and costs reduced. The Neumark study claims that previous AT&T mergers have
resulted in significant job losses and that in the period leading up to the
merger, AT&T was already shedding U.S. jobs. The study also noted that
during the same period T-Mobile was adding jobs, a trend the study indicated
would be reversed after the merger.
All of this was presented at
a high-profile news conference Nov. 8 in the new Capitol Building Visitors
Center. The media event also included representatives from the Media Access
Project (MAP), a public interest group opposing the merger that is trying to
get AT&T's advertising dropped by media outlets
because it is, the group
claims, not truthful.
AT&T, in response to the
MAP claims, has said that the company has a First Amendment right to run those
commercials. Currently, MAP has approached one television station in
Washington, the highly rated CBS affiliate WUSA-TV, and formally requested that
the station stop carrying the ads. There's no indication of how the television
station plans to respond.
For its part, the supporters
of AT&T also had their own news conferences. The Communications Workers of America
released a study of its own claiming
that AT&T really will manage to come up with 96,000 new jobs. The CWA is
backing the merger because T-Mobile isn't unionized, and if the merger happens,
the CWA is counting on signing up those new employees as union members,
assuming they still have jobs after the merger.
Adding to the day's merger
media madness, think tank Tech Freedom presented a discussion by George Mason
University professor Josh Wright about the AT&T-T-Mobile merger.