The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly going to review Amazon’s proposed $8.45 billion deal to acquire MGM, the movie and TV studio behind such properties as the James Bond franchise, Legally Blonde and Shark Tank.
News of FTC scrutiny comes after President Joe Biden last week promoted antitrust legal scholar Lina Khan to head the FTC. That appointment signaled a tough stance generally toward tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. Furthermore the current climate in Washington, D.C. is marked by a bipartisan push by legislators to curb Big Tech’s market power.
If Amazon’s purchase of MGM goes through, it would give a major boost to content inventory and creation prospects for the Amazon Prime streaming service. Not only does MGM have an extensive film and TV catalog but Amazon plans to create new movies and TV shows based on some of the famous characters in the MGM library, potential examples including Rocky, Robocop and Pink Panther. Amazon continues to operate its own studio which has yielded the Emmy-winning Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as the Oscar-winning feature, Sound of Metal.
The FTC sought the right to review the Amazon-MGM deal, which includes the acquisition of the cable channel Epix, in that the government agency already has a far-reaching antitrust investigation into Amazon’s business practices generally. The FTC and Department of Justice earlier divvied up their jurisdiction over Big Tech with the former responsible for Facebook and Amazon, and the Justice Department delving into Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
MGM’s library has more than 4,000 movies, including Silence of the Lambs and Thelma & Louise, and 17,000 TV shows such as reality TV’s Shark Tank and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Upcoming MGM movies include Paul Thomas Anderson’s Soggy Bottom, starring Bradley Cooper; Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci with Lady Gaga and Adam Driver; and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson.
Khan, who has served as a law professor at Columbia University, impacted the antitrust landscape with her scholarly work in 2017 as a Yale law student, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” She helped lay the foundation for a new way of looking at antitrust law beyond the impact of big-company market dominance on consumer prices. As counsel to the Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, she played a key role in the 2019-20 investigation of the tech giants’ market power.
At 32, Khan is believed to be the youngest chair in the history of the FTC, which polices competition and consumer protection in industry generally as well as digital privacy. SHOOTonline