Walt Disney Co.’s acquisition of a large portion of 21st Century Fox may have another hurdle to jump before becoming final due to objections from members of the United States Congress.
Some top congressional Democrats are calling for hearings to investigate whether the merger would violate antitrust laws. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, stated that the transaction was “another industry-changing merger, which would have major implications in television, film, and other media. I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction on American Consumers.”
Klobuchar says that she has requested Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), chair of the subcommittee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Judiciary Committee, schedule hearings on the transaction, though none have been scheduled so far. Lee and Klobacher were quick to schedule similar hearings when the AT&T and Time Warner merger was announced in October 2016.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, called on his colleagues to take a look at the deal as he believes the United States is 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,” Cicilline said. “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.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger has taken the position that the Disney-Fox merger will be a boon for American consumers since it better allows the company to compete with growing streaming giants Amazon and Netflix.0comments
The regulatory process is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, with the Justice Department likely to review the deal before its allowed to become final. The deal does not require congressional approval to move forward, though it is common for mergers of this scale to be brought up for public hearings.