The first hurdles for the Walt Disney Company acquisition of 21st Century Fox are currently being put in place by members of Congress. According to Variety, members of the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees are calling for hearings over the pending $66 billion purchase by Disney. While this was expected, with the process taking an estimated 12-18 months, the speed that some members of Congress are moving is reminiscent of the AT&T and Time Warner merger announced in October according to Variety:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said that the proposed transaction was “another industry-changing merger, which would have major implications in television, film, and media.”
“I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction on American consumers,” she said…
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, called for a close look at the transaction.
He said in a statement, he said that the country was at a “monopoly moment.”
“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.”
“If it’s approved, this merger could allow Disney to limit what consumers can watch and increase their cable bills. Disney will gain more than 300 channels, 22 regional sports networks, control over Hulu, and a significant portion of Roku.”
Nothing has been scheduled up to this point, but Variety points out that some major mergers have come before public hearings in the past. The Justice Department will also review the deal between Disney and Fox, but that is a separate process that does not require the approval of Congress. It will be interesting to see how this purchase will be viewed compared to others in the past. With Disney not purchasing the entire Fox operation outright, questions would arise about how to define it and if it would constitute the monopoly that some of the lawmakers are alluding to.
One thing that is certain is that we’ll be overwhelmed with details and possibilities for the next year. If we’re not tired of hearing about superheroes and media lingo by then, it might end up being worth it.