WGA West Issues “Call To Action” To Curb Media Consolidation: “One Of The Root Causes” Of The Strike

Calling media consolidations “one of the root causes” of its 109-day-old strike, the WGA West today issued a “Call to Action,” urging members to file public comments with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in support of proposed revisions to their Merger Guidelines – a policy document designed to guide law enforcement around consolidation.

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The “Call to Action” comes after the fourth straight day of bargaining with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to end the writers strike and the day after the WGA West released a report calling for more government regulation of what it calls the “anti-competitive practices” of Disney, Amazon and Netflix, which it accuses of “abusing their dominance to further disadvantage competitors, raise prices for consumers, and push down wages for the creative workforce.”

“Make your voice heard about the harms of media consolidation,” the guild said in a message to members today. “Share your thoughts on media consolidation with policymakers at the FTC and the DOJ!”

“More than 100 days into our strike, as we continue to fight for the sustainability of our profession, events in Washington, D.C. provide an opportunity for writers to shine a light on one of the root causes of the strike: media consolidation,” the guild said.

The message goes on to say:

“For decades, the WGA has advocated for stronger antitrust oversight, bringing attention to the ways that mergers and vertical integration in our industry – from AT&T-Time Warner to Warner Bros.-Discovery to Amazon-MGM to Disney-Fox – have consolidated the power of our employers and harmed writers as well as the diversity of content. 

“In numerous reports and policy filings – including a new report called The New Gatekeepers: How Disney, Amazon and Netflix Will Take Over Media, released yesterday – the WGA has documented the threat to our industry from past and future consolidation and called for more aggressive antitrust enforcement.

“Our current strike highlights the urgency of the issue; studios gained power through anti-competitive consolidation and vertical integration and then used that power to push down wages and impose more precarious working conditions for writers while profiting off of their work, and currently – together – refuse to bargain a fair contract for writers to mitigate those harms.

“Last month, the FTC and DOJ jointly released proposed revisions to their Merger Guidelines, a policy document designed to guide law enforcement around consolidation. These new Draft Guidelines are part of an effort by these agencies to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement. Compared with prior versions of Merger Guidelines, they give significantly more weight to the ways that mergers can be harmful and, for the first time, explicitly direct agencies and courts to consider how mergers can hurt workers. The Draft Guidelines have been released for public comment, and the FTC and DOJ want to hear from people who have been affected by consolidation – people like you.”

The FTC and DOJ are accepting comments on their revisions of the Merger Guidelines until September 18.

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