Writers Guild West Rips Disney's $52.4B Fox Deal, Citing Antitrust Concerns

Disney Logo and 20th Century Fox Logo - Split - Publicity - H 2017

"The antitrust concerns raised by this deal are obvious and significant," the guild stated.

The Writers Guild of America West, the labor union that represents film and television writers, is signaling its opposition to the $52.4 billion Disney deal to acquire the majority of 21st Century Fox's assets.

The deal, if it closes, would mean that six Hollywood major studios would now become five, raising concerns about fewer gatekeepers for film and television content. In 2016, Disney and Fox films accounted for more than 40 percent market share of the global box office. 

“In the relentless drive to eliminate competition, big business has an insatiable appetite for consolidation. Disney and Fox have spent decades profiting from the oligopolistic control that the six major media conglomerates have exercised over the entertainment industry, often at the expense of the creators who power their television and film operations," the Writers Guild of America West said in a statement.

The guild added: "Now, this proposed merger of direct competitors will make matters even worse by substantially increasing the market power of a combined Disney-Fox corporation. The antitrust concerns raised by this deal are obvious and significant. The Writers Guild of America West strongly opposes this merger and will work to ensure our nation’s antitrust laws are enforced.”

Early Thursday morning, The Walt Disney Co. agreed to acquire major assets of 21st Century Fox in a deal worth $52.4 billion, or approximately $66.1 billion when including debt, valuing shares of Fox at around $40 apiece while they had traded Wednesday at $32.75.

Those assets include historic studio 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International and Star India.

Disney also announced that longtime chief Bob Iger has extended his contract as chairman and CEO through the end of 2021. Iger stated that the planned acquisition "reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before."

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors and performers, declined to comment on the Disney-Fox deal. The Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and American Federation of Musicians also declined to comment.