Time Warner, Fox Oppose Georgia Religious Act

Time Warner and 21st Century Fox on Thursday joined a list of media companies criticizing a religious liberty bill that's passed the legislature in Georgia that opponents say encourages discrimination.

"At Time Warner, diversity in all its forms is core to our value system and to the success of our business. We strongly oppose the discriminatory language and intent of Georgia's pending religious liberty bill, which clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination," said Time Warner, whose Turner Broadcasting unit is based in Atlanta.

"All of our divisions – HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner – have business interests in Georgia, but none more than Turner, an active participant in the Georgia Prospers campaign, a coalition of business leaders committed to a Georgia that welcomes all people. Georgia bill HB 757 is in contradiction to this campaign, to the values we hold dear, and to the type of workplace we guarantee to our employees. We urge Governor Deal to exercise his veto."

Georgia gives generous tax credits for TV and movie production, and many shows are now shot there.

In a blog post, 21st Century Fox said: "On behalf of 21st Century Fox’s many creative partners and colleagues who choose to film their projects in the beautiful state of Georgia, we join the growing coalition of businesses in asking Governor Deal to veto this bill.

Discovery and Comcast/NBC Universal also issued statement.

The bill was protested Wednesday by other media companies, with some threatening to boycott production in the state if the bill becomes law.

The Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel Studios unit stated its opposition, as did AMC Networks, which produces The Walking Dead in Georgia.

"Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law," a Disney spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Motion Picture Association of America called the pending legislation "discriminatory," but expressed confidence that Deal would not sign it, according to Reuters. "We are confident that Governor Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia," said Vans Stevenson, MPAA senior VP of state government affairs.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.