7 DEC 2021

US Congressmen oppose Discovery-WarnerMedia merger

In a letter, 30 Democratic members of the US Congress said the proposed consolidation “raises significant antitrust concerns” and warranted increased scrutiny from the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

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More than 30 Democratic members of the US Congress are raising concerns about Discovery’s proposed US$43 billion takeover of WarnerMedia, Los Angeles Times reported. In a letter, they said the proposed consolidation “raises significant antitrust concerns”  and warranted increased scrutiny from the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

Discovery is seeking to absorb WarnerMedia from telecommunications giant AT&T, which bought the WarnerMedia assets more than three years ago after a protracted battle with the Justice Department. The Discovery-WarnerMedia merger was announced in May and, until now, has encountered little turbulence as it has wended its way through the antitrust review process. Monday’s letter represents the first major pushback against the deal in the United States.

“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,”  wrote Democratic members of Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Justice Department Antitrust Chief Jonathan Kanter that was sent on Monday.

John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, believes the deal is not anti-competitive. “What’s been articulated in those letters is really unfounded,” Stankey said of the current antitrust scrutiny of the deal during an appearance at the virtual UBS Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that was webcast.