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WGA West Calls for Suspension of Streamers' ‘Anti-Competitive Practices’

Date: 2023-08-23

WGA West Calls for Suspension of Streamers' ‘Anti-Competitive Practices’

The Writers Guild of America West has called on the US government to strengthen regulations on Disney, Amazon, and Netflix, in order to prevent alleged “anti-competitive practices”. By: Theng Min Yee

US - As negotiations continue between the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and major entertainment companies through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the LA-based WGAW division has issued a regulatory call in a comprehensive report. This report delves into the implications of the growing dominance of Disney, Amazon, and Netflix, amid the ongoing 108-day-old US writers' strike.

Titled "The New Gatekeepers: How Disney, Amazon, and Netflix Will Take Over Media," the report underscores the necessity for regulatory actions from antitrust agencies and lawmakers. The WGAW report advocates blocking consolidation, thorough investigations into anti-competitive practices, and heightened regulation within the streaming industry.

The report's focus is on the alleged misuse of power by Disney, Amazon, and Netflix, citing actions that disadvantage competitors, increase consumer prices, and suppress wages for creative professionals. It warns that if left unchecked, these media conglomerates could exert overwhelming control over the media landscape, jeopardising the creative progress and diversity fostered by the streaming era.

Highlighting the backdrop of recent mergers and anti-competitive strategies, the report raises concerns about the future trajectory of the media industry. The timing of this release is particularly sensitive, as the WGAW and AMPTP engage in face-to-face discussions, marking a rare occurrence after months of negotiations.

Laura Blum-Smith, WGA West's Research & Public Policy Director, noted the industry's shift from a competitive investment model to a monopolistic one, potentially concentrating control within a few major corporations. Blum-Smith further emphasized the potential consequences for writers, including limited buyers for their work, more powerful employers in deal negotiations, and compromised pay and working conditions.

The report contends that all three prominent companies have employed acquisitions and rapid growth to exploit writers by underpaying them and sidelining independent producers.

As the media landscape evolves, this report from WGAW underscores the concerns and challenges faced by the creative workforce in an industry increasingly dominated by media giants. The outcomes of the ongoing negotiations and potential regulatory actions could reshape the course of media and entertainment for years to come.

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