The merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, Inc. (where HBO Max is involved) could face legal problems in the United States Congress. According to collect comic bookfour Democratic lawmakers have written to the Department of Justice to investigate the conduct of the company by “anti-competitive practices”, pointing out specifically how “harmed workers and creatives in the media and entertainment industry” and citing the cancellation of ‘Batgirl’ as an example.
The letter points to other WBD decisions that have also affected the public such as remove 68 titles from HBO Max (among them ‘Westworld’)which means that “Some content removed from HBO Max is not available to stream, rent or purchase on other platforms, which means consumers no longer have access to the content they expected when they paid for HBO Max.”
“The damage to content creators whose projects are canceled late in development or in post-production cannot be overstated…Such cancellations taint projects, making them less attractive and marketable to other buyers; consumers may never be able to.” watch programs purchased and then canceled by WBD. WBD’s conduct amounts to a de facto ‘catch and kill’ practice, greatly limiting consumer choice.”
In the United States, antitrust law limits the power of companies so that competition can exist within the same union. According to these four senators (Elizabeth Warren, Joaquin Castro, David Cicilline and Pramila Jayapal) the essence of this law is to protect competition for workers, but also consumers:
“As Assistant Attorney General Kanter recently noted, ‘antitrust laws apply to transactions that harm content creators and workers.’ We are concerned that the WarnerMedia/Discovery merger turned out to be such a transaction. It has allowed for the WBD conglomerate to take aggressive action, hurting workers and creatives in the media and entertainment industry, while eliminating competitive disciplinary forces that give workers the freedom to change jobs or negotiate better wages and working conditions”.
The letter concludes by asking the Department of Justice to review the merger that was completed on April 8, 2022 following “post-transaction conduct” and thus, hopefully, the requirements that companies are required to face these unions are updated to ensure that they are required to meet the needs of workers, consumers and content creators in the entertainment industry.