A coalition of some of the nation’s most powerful labor unions is pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to put the brakes on Amazon’s $8.45 billion gambit to buy MGM as the agency decides whether to approve the would-be takeover.
On Wednesday, the Strategic Organization Center—a group of unions that includes the Communications Workers of America and the Teamsters—urged FTC chair Lina Khan to either put the kibosh on the whole proposal or to force the monster corporation to accept conditions such as separating Amazon Prime Video from the rest of the company in order to clinch the deal.
In the letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, SOC executive director Michael Zucker warns that any agreement allowing the e-retail giant to swallow the studio with few regulatory strings attached “would further bolster Amazon’s ability to leverage power across multiple lines of business related to the SVOD market and create further harmful vertical integration in the film industry at large.”
The SOC, which has also gone after the company for its treatment of warehouse workers, is not alone in its concerns about what havoc an even vaster Amazon could wreak. The Writers Guild of America West said in a June 24 statement that Amazon’s move on MGM “illustrates the imminent need for greater scrutiny and reform.” On June 29, Senator Elizabeth Warren also wrote to Kahn expressing similar fears.
Amazon, meanwhile, is apparently trying to slip under any major scrutiny with a nothing-to-see-here posture. The $8.45 billion acquisition didn’t even rate a mention in its latest earnings call, and Amazon has yet to file a form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is required for deals a company considers “material” to its business.
For its part, Amazon is trying to get Khan off its case. In a June 30 missive of its own, the juggernaut demanded Khan recuse herself from anything having to do with Amazon, stating that in her past as a writer, congressional staffer, and academic Khan “has on numerous occasions argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up. These statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability.”
In a statement to THR, Zucker said, “If allowed, this merger would permit Amazon to inevitably impact producers and consumers of video content, squeezing diversity as it gains distribution market share and pricing power. We hope the FTC will see the handwriting is on the wall here. The only question is whether regulators read it and act on it.”
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