Time Warner, Disney, Viacom and Other Media Powers Oppose Georgia Anti-Gay Bill

Bill Would Let Businesses Deny Employment, Education and Charitable Services

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CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Credit: Michael A. Schwarz/Bloomberg

Time Warner joined a growing chorus of media and tech companies urging Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto a bill that critics say legalizes discrimination, particularly of gay people.

"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," Time Warner said in a statement Thursday.

All of Time Warner's divisions -- HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner -- have business interests in Georgia, the company said. Turner Broadcasting has offices in Atlanta and owns the cable networks CNN, TBS and TNT, and participates in the Georgia Prospers campaign, a coalition of business leaders "committed to a Georgia that welcomes all people," the company said.

The legislation would allow business owners in the state to invoke their religious beliefs to deny employment, education and charitable services -- essentially giving legal protection to people who object to same-sex marriage.

The bill "is in contradiction to this campaign, to the values we hold dear, and to the type of workplace we guarantee to our employees," Time Warner said.

Georgia, with attractive tax incentives for businesses, has been one of the winners in the global land grab for filmed entertainment.

Walt Disney Co., which filmed "Captain America: Civil War" in the state, said Wednesday it will stop making movies in Georgia if the governor signs the bill into law. AMC Networks, which films the "The Walking Dead" there, and Viacom, the parent company of Paramount, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, Spike and MTV, also called on Georgia's governor to reject the legislation Wednesday. Viacom's "Being Mary Jane" was filmed in Georgia.

In all, film and TV producers spent a record $1.7 billion in Georgia in the fiscal year that ended June 30, generating a $6 billion impact, the Georgia Economic Development Department said at its Film Day event in February. The entertainment industry has created 79,000 jobs in the state with an average annual salary of $84,000, it said.

Beyond the film industry, other large companies including Microsoft, Intel, Yelp, and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and Delta Air Lines have urged the state to abandon the bill. Salesforce.com said it will cut investment in Georgia, including a tech conference held in Atlanta, if the bill isn't vetoed.

Mr. Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto House Bill 757. The governor's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the companies' statements.

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