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Daryl Parks: AT&T Denies Request to Address Shareholders Over Redlining Allegations

Attorney Daryl Parks said AT&T has denied his request to speak at its shareholders meeting about his clients' allegations of broadband redlining in Cleveland, though a copy of that letter signaled that AT&T would share his concerns with the board.

Parks earlier this week said those clients would be suing AT&T over the issue and wanted to bring that to shareholders' attention personally. That comes as AT&T is trying to get its merger with Time Warner approved by the Justice Department, a point Parks made in announcing the suit.

"Yesterday I received a fax from AT&T’s Stacey Maris, senior vice president, assistant general counsel and secretary in response to the letter we delivered April 24th," Parks told Multichannel News. "AT&T has specifically denied my request to speak at the annual shareholders meeting that occurs this Friday, April 28, 2017. Stating that 'The agenda for our Annual Meeting is already established, but if you attend our Meeting, I hope you find it informative and enjoyable.'"

Parks, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, said AT&T did not address his request for a meeting or the merits of the allegations. He said the company was stonewalling, that the issue "will not simply disappear" and that redlining was not confined to Ohio.

"So from this point, we intend to generate a national dialogue about unequal and unfair essential broadband services," he said. "We fully expect to move AT&T from its current posture of denial to one of acceptance, and then to one of correction, change and reconciliation."

An AT&T spokesperson was not available for comment at press time, but the company said in response to the threatened suit: "We don't favor any demographic when it comes to providing any service we offer. The market for internet service has never been more vibrant and competitive, both wireless and wireline. We would like nothing more than to serve every customer in Cleveland that wants our services.”

According to a copy of the full letter obtained by Multichannel News/B&C, AT&T did agree to share his letter and the allegations with the members of the board, and said he Parks was welcome at the meeting.

The text of the letter appears below:

Dear Mr. Parks

We Have received your letter dated yesterday. Whle I won't comment on the specifics of your letter here, I want to confirm for you that it will be shared with our Board of Directors for its consideration. In addition, as a shareholder, you are warmly invited to attend our Annual Meeting on Friday here in Dallas. As you know, all our proxy materials mayh be found at www.proxy.att. The agenda for our Annual Meeting is already established, but if you attend our meeting, I hope you find it informative and enjoyable.

Stacey Maris.

(Photo via Bill Bradford's Flickr. Image taken on March 4, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.