About one-quarter of all Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) shareholder votes were cast in favor of a proposal that asks the company to report on business risks from Verizon’s controversial FCC lawsuit and other actions to oppose open Internet and network neutrality principles.
Open MIC is unique among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in that it seeks to use private sector and capital market mechanisms to influence corporate media management policies. By empowering shareholder activists, and providing media management with positive and negative feedback on both short-term and long-term business practices, Open MIC seeks to help shape the emerging “eco-system” of global media.
Open MIC operates at the intersection of several very powerful trends.
The first is the surging global growth and popularity of media, fueled by multiple advances in digital technology. As the Economist magazine has put it: “Society is in the early phases of what appears to be a media revolution on the scale of that launched by Guttenberg in 1448.”
At the same time, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding more information and accountability from media enterprises on a broad range of issues. Many of the issues are familiar. Do media companies protect the public interest by providing content that fully informs the public? Do they reflect the diversity of the communities they serve? Do they recognize the special needs of children? Are they too big? A recent poll of U.S. adults, for example, found that more than 69% believe media companies are “becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition.” (Zogby, January 2007.)
And as digital technology expands the definition of media, new issues arise. The list expands to include questions of even greater media consolidation; broadband internet access and “net neutrality”; copyright and trademark; database protection; privacy and internet security, among others.
In that context, Open MIC’s mission is to:
Open MIC’s initial goals include the development of a reporting framework for media companies.
A key element of Open MIC’s working plan is the establishment of working groups and advisory panels composed of multiple stakeholders, including industry executives and financial analysts. The model is similar to one that has been successfully employed in the environmental arena by CERES (www.ceres.org), which has built an influential and effective coalition of varied stakeholders while working with corporations to mitigate climate risk.
The Open MIC Blog
Verizon Shareholder Proposal on Open Internet Issues Receives Support from Leading Proxy Advisor ISS
A shareholder proposal asking Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to issue a report about the risks confronting the company because of its positions on net neutrality and open Internet issues has received support from ISS Proxy Advisory Services, the leading advisor to institutional investors.
The shareholder proposal can be voted on by Verizon shareholders either by proxy over the next two weeks, or in person at the company's annual meeting on May 2.
In response to a shareholder proposal, Apple Inc. has amended its Board’s Audit and Finance Committee charter to include responsibility for privacy and data security risks that confront the company.
The change was praised by advocates as an important step in improving accountability for privacy and data security at the highest levels of corporate governance. “Apple is to be congratulated for recognizing the critical risks that privacy and data security can pose to a company’s financial performance,” said Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC a non-profit organization that assisted investors in drafting the proposal at Apple.