The top Democrats on the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees have requested hearings on the Walt Disney Co.’s proposed acquisition of a large portion of 21st Century Fox. The landmark deal, in the region of $52.4 billion, will see Disney take control of Fox assets such as its film and TV studio, cable networks, and regional sports channels: something these officials believe is the start of a dangerous monopoly.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, called the transaction “another industry-changing merger, which would have major implications in television, film, and media.” However, she admitted that she was “concerned about the impact of this transaction on American consumers.” Klobuchar has asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who chairs the subcommittee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, to schedule a hearing.
Also joining the chorus of worried officials is Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee. He said that America was at a “monopoly moment” and warned of the implications.
“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 stated. “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.”
Subject to the approval of federal regulators, Disney who owns outlets such as ABC and ESPN would now take ownership of Fox’s cable entertainment networks, such as FX Networks and National Geographic, international television businesses, and 30-percent interest in Hulu. Before the acquisition is complete, Fox will spin off the Fox Broadcasting network and local stations, Fox News, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a new company, called New Fox. The companies expect the regulatory process to take about 12 to 18 months.