Free Press Launches Anti-AT&T/BellSouth Campaign

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Activist group Free Press is launching a "Stop the Merger Now" e-mail campaign to try and block the AT&T, BellSouth merger.

The $67 billion deal was announced over the weekend, with some activist groups working Sunday to express their opposition and gear up for battle.

"The merger resurrects the Ma Bell monopoly that was busted up in 1984," says Free Press in the e-mail announcing the campaign. "But it's far worse today. These companies no longer just control telephone calls. They want to become gatekeepers to all digital media -- television, telephone and Internet -- at prices that many Americans can't afford.

The merger is now in the hands of the FCC, FTC and Congress. They'll rubber-stamp the deal unless the public speaks up."

Free Press helped launch a successful e-mail campaign opposing FCC ownership rule changes in 2003, and has since lobbied online on numerous media issues.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, in a statement, suggested there would be no rubber stamping:

"The FCC’s primary responsibility is to determine whether the proposed transaction is in the best interest of consumers," he said. "We will carefully weigh the information presented, examining any allegations of specific harm in individual markets and the potential benefits for the deployment of new services."

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