Writers Guild West Warns Fox-Disney Merger Will Be at ‘Expense of Creators’

“The antitrust concerns raised by this deal are obvious and significant”

Last Updated: December 14, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

The Writers Guild of America West has issued a statement opposing the $52.4 billion Disney deal to acquire 21st Century Fox assets.

“In the relentless drive to eliminate competition, big business has an insatiable appetite for consolidation. Disney and Fox have spent decades profiting from the oligopolistic control that the six major media conglomerates have exercised over the entertainment industry, often at the expense of the creators who power their television and film operations. Now, this proposed merger of direct competitors will make matters even worse by substantially increasing the market power of a combined Disney-Fox corporation. The antitrust concerns raised by this deal are obvious and significant. The Writers Guild of America West strongly opposes this merger and will work to ensure our nation’s antitrust laws are enforced,” the Writers Guild of America West said in a statement.

Disney on Thursday announced a massive deal to acquire much of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock.

The buyout infuses the Mouse House with a bevy of Fox properties, including its film and TV studios and much of its non-broadcast television business, including regional sports networks and cable networks such as FX, FXX and Nat Geo.

Under the terms of this agreement, Bob Iger will remain chairman and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co. through 2021. Iger, who has served as CEO since 2005, had previously planned to retire in 2016 but has extended his tenure several times since then — chasing away several potential successors along the way.

The deal also represents an unraveling of the vast media empire built by Rupert Murdoch over the last several decades — a point that Iger acknowledged in a statement.

“We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building,” Iger said, “and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings.”

Murdoch in turn offered praise for Iger. “I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world,” he said in a statement. “I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”

According to some industry experts, the acquisition makes Disney the “most powerful company” in Hollywood.