Top Democrats on the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees are demanding a hearing on Disney’s impending $52.4 billion bid to buy 21st Century Fox.
Last week, Disney announced it had reached a deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, currently controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction. Lawmakers now worry the deal will further solidify Disney’s dominance in the entertainment world — concentrating too much power in the hands of a single company.
“I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction on American consumers,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee, said in a statement. She also commented that this merger was “another industry-changing merger, which would have major implications in television, film, and media.”
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, argued that consumers needed “more competition than before, not less, to create an economy that has more choices and innovation, lower prices, and better jobs.”
“The House Antitrust Subcommittee should look at this proposal very closely,” he said in a statement Friday.
And in a letter to Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., of New Jersey urged more oversight.
“The Committee’s oversight into these proposed mergers has been lacking,” Pallone wrote. “Despite repeated calls from Democratic members, this Committee has not had a single hearing to look at the changing video marketplace in more than four years — before many online video services had even launched.”
Disney CEO Robert Iger has positioned the merger as a good move for consumers, as the company expands into the streaming arena to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
Under the deal Disney will acquire Fox’s film and TV studios, as well as Fox’s regional sports networks and a controlling stake in Hulu. Fox News would stay under Murdoch ownership.
The acquisition will likely take 12 to 18 months to complete, and would have to undergo approval by government regulators, likely the Justice Department.
So far no hearing has been scheduled but Mike Lee, a Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee told Reuters that “a hearing has not been ruled out.”