WGA West Calls for Antitrust Regulation to Protect Against Disney, Netflix, Amazon

Writers Guild calls on federal regulators to halt the wave of consolidation in entertainment, stop “new gatekeepers”

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The Writers Guild of America West has released its latest antitrust report, which warns that the ongoing consolidation of Hollywood will lead to Disney, Netflix and Amazon becoming the “new gatekeepers” of the entertainment industry, to the detriment of creative talent.

“Deregulation and mergers have laid the groundwork for a future of increased market power that could soon leave just three companies controlling what content is made, what consumers can watch, and how they can watch it,” the guild warned.

As an example, the WGA pointed to the wave of studio acquisitions Disney made in the 2010s under CEO Bob Iger — most notably Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox — which have allowed it to increase its box office and streaming market share.

At the same time, the guild argues Disney has used its growing market presence to “pressure creatives to forego their participation in future licensing revenue on Disney shows, a decades-long industry practice for the creative forces behind Disney’s valuable content.”

“Disney’s size and power, along with its vertical integration, allowed the company to cut pay without losing talent, as writers negotiating against a massive combined producer-distributor cannot walk away from the distributor’s poor terms without also leaving the show they created,” the guild wrote.

Netflix and Amazon were also criticized by the guild for using vertical integration and anticompetitive practices to increase prices on their streaming services, while decreasing the opportunities over the long-term for writers to find employment or get their projects greenlit.

“Streaming’s dominant employers have used their leverage to erode the sustainability of writing work; further consolidation could result in fewer writers
able to earn a living and diminished variety in the marketplace of ideas. It is crucial that antitrust agencies and lawmakers take the following actions to protect the future of media,” the WGA wrote.

The WGA has become an outspoken antitrust voice in recent years, previously releasing reports condemning the Warner Bros. Discovery merger as well as other past mergers, such as Comcast-NBC Universal and AT&T-Time Warner. It’s asserted that these mergers have been financially unsuccessful and damaged the financial and creative prospects of writers.

The report also comes as the WGA is in the midst of renewed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a new bargaining agreement that could end the ongoing writers strike. While insiders say that some progress has been made, the two sides remain far apart on issues such as TV writers’ room staffing and streaming residuals.

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.