Time Warner Inc. on Thursday joined fellow media giants the Walt Disney Company, AMC Networks and Viacom to oppose a religious liberty bill in Georgia that opponents describe as anti-gay.
The bill, called the Free Exercise Protection Act, was passed in the Georgia state legislature last week and allows faith-based organizations to deny use of their facilities and services for events that violate their religious beliefs. Critics say the bill opens the door for discrimination against LGBT people. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to sign the bill into law.
“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,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. “We urge Governor Deal to exercise his veto.”
Time Warner, which owns HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner, has significant business interests in the state. CNN, which is owned by Turner, is headquartered in Atlanta.
Time Warner’s position isn’t as drastic as Disney’s, which said on Wednesday that the company, along with its subsidiary Marvel, will stop filming in Georgia if the bill becomes law.
“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 company spokesman said on Wednesday.
That could be a devastating hit to Georgia’s burgeoning film and television industry, which brought about $1.7 billion to the state in fiscal year 2015, resulting in a $6 billion impact overall.
Both AMC Networks, whose hit show “The Walking Dead” is filmed in Georgia, and Viacom, the parent company of Paramount, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, Spike and MTV, also urged Gov. Deal to veto the bill but stopped short of suggesting they would stop filming in the state.
Rival studios 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment have not publicly come out against the pending law, though several referred requests for comment to the Motion Picture Association of America, an industry trade group.
The MPAA said the bill was discriminatory and didn’t expect it to become law.
“We are confident that Governor Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia,” Vans Stevenson, MPAA senior vice president of state government affairs, said in a statement.