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Congressional Democrats Raised Concerns Over WarnerMedia/Discovery Merger

December 6, 2021 by Dan McCue
Congressional Democrats Raised Concerns Over WarnerMedia/Discovery Merger
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, answers a question from a senator during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 12, 2021.(Senate Television via AP)

WASHINGTON — House and Senate Democrats on Monday raised their objections to the pending $43 billion merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, arguing it will hurt the Hollywood jobs market and squelch diversity in the entertainment workforce.

In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Jonathan Kanter, head of the DOJ’s antitrust division, the group of lawmakers led by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, say in light of these concerns the transaction deserves renewed scrutiny on antitrust grounds.

“In particular, the merger threatens to enhance the market power of the combined firm and substantially lessen competition in the media and entertainment industry, harming both consumers and American workers,” the representatives write. 

“In light of these concerns, we respectfully urge the department to conduct a thorough review of this transaction to ensure that it does not harm American consumers and workers by illegally harming competition,” they say.

In addition to Castro, the letter is signed by Sens. Ben Ray Luján, of New Mexico, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, as well as Reps. Pramila Jayapal, of Washington, Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, of New York, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Zoe Lofgren and Juan Vargas, of California, and Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas.

In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers argue that competitive markets create more high-quality jobs “and give workers more freedom and flexibility to change jobs and negotiate better pay and working conditions.”

“Furthermore,” they write, “in the absence of competition, the rise of employers’ market power reduces the power of workers to ‘voice and exit,’ increasing their risk of exploitation.” 

“Enforcement of our anti-merger laws is especially critical for workers from marginalized communities. In the past, mergers across all industries have disproportionately led to job losses for workers identifying as racial and ethnic minorities compared to their White counterparts,” the lawmakers say.

Signed by numerous members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the warning to Garland cites the low representation of Latinx communities at all levels of media as a reason to be vigilant about maintaining diverse voices on the airwaves and on the big screen.

“Despite representing nearly one-fifth of the population, Hispanics are systematically the most under-represented on-screen compared to other demographics’ population share,” the letter states. “A more consolidated, less competitive marketplace may only reduce the competitive pressure on media companies to provide consumers with more diverse and inclusive programming.”

The Well News reached out to representatives of WarnerMedia and will update this story when they respond.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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