'Monopoly Moment': Senate May Investigate Disney/Fox Merger

"I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction"

A possible monopoly could be in the making following Walt Disney Co.'s proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox. According to Variety, Senate and House Democrats on the antitrust "subcommittees are calling for hearings on the proposed deal to prevent a possible monopoly from taking root.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, has warned that the merger could "have major implications in television, film, and media," thus requiring some government oversight.

“I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction on American consumers,” she said.

Klobuchar has asked the anti-trust subcommittee chair Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), to schedule a hearing. No hearing has been set thus far. Klobuchar called for a similar hearing in October 2016 after AT&T and Time Warner announced their merger plan.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, said this could be a "monopoly moment" and needs closer examination. “Disney’s proposed purchase of 21st Century Fox threatens to put control of TV, movie, and news content into the hands of a single media giant," he said.

“If it’s approved, this merger could allow Disney to limit what consumers can watch and increase their cable bills," warned Cicilline. "Disney will gain more than 300 channels, 22 regional sports networks, control over Hulu, and a significant portion of Roku.”

While it may look like Disney owns the whole world as a result of the acquisition, trends show they are only looking to compete with the other big media players — the new kids on the block, namely, Netflix and Amazon. Disney CEO Robert Iger said as much when announcing the merger.

“The pace of disruption has only hastened,” Iger said in an interview. “This will allow us to greatly accelerate our direct-to-consumer strategy, which is our highest priority.”

The regulatory process will take approximately 12 to 18 months. Major media mergers have typically come before congressional hearings in the past.

Should the deal go forth without a hitch, Disney would own the rights to beloved franchises like "The Simpsons," "Aliens," "Avatar," "X-Men" and "Deadpool."


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