December 06, 2021

Senator Warren, Castro, Cicilline, and Jayapal Urge Justice Department to Investigate Proposed Merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia for Violations of Antitrust Laws

Text of Bill (pdf) 

Washington D.C. –  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and 29 other members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter urging the Department of Justice to investigate the proposed $43 billion merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia for violations of antitrust laws. In addition, members of Congress are requesting the Justice Department examine whether the proposed merger will reduce diverse content in a more consolidated and less competitive market. 

“The proposed merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery will not only lead to the enhanced market power of an already humongous company — it may also lead to less racial representation in the media and entertainment industry. We must stop harmful mergers, and the Department of Justice should thoroughly investigate this proposed merger to ensure diverse content and workers are protected,” said Senator Warren.

“For far too long, Hollywood studios have excluded Latinos from opportunities in the industry, perpetuating dangerous stereotypes and inaccurate portrayals. Latinos are nearly 20-percent of the U.S. population, one-in-five Americans, but we’re almost invisible on-screen and behind the camera. I’m deeply concerned that the proposed merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia will lead to concentrated exclusion, harming consumers and workers — especially Latinos who are already the most underrepresented group,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “Giant corporations must not be allowed to stomp out competition, put up barriers to enter the market, and continue to exclude Latinos from the media industry. The Justice Department must thoroughly investigate that this deal does not illegally harm consumers and workers, and make sure that Latinos are empowered to tell their stories with all Americans.” 

“It is critical that the Justice Department closely reviews this transaction to determine whether it harms competition, workers, and diversity in the media and entertainment industry,” said Congressman Cicilline. “There already has been rampant consolidation and we cannot allow another harmful merger to go unchecked.” 

“As the Vice Chair of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, I know that corporate consolidation and monopolistic practices come at the direct expense of workers, consumers, competition, innovation, fairness, and equity,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “As we learn more about Warner Media’s $43 billion merger with Discovery, it is clear that the Justice Department must scrutinize whether this transaction violates antitrust law while also examining whether this corporate merger will further reduce diverse content in an industry that far too often excludes the voices, perspectives, talents, and ideas of Black, brown, immigrant, and Indigenous people.” 

“This transaction raises significant antitrust concerns,” the members wrote. “In particular, 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. In light of these concerns, we respectfully urge the Department to conduct a thorough review of this transaction to ensure that it does not harm American consumers and workers by illegally harming competition.”  

“We also respectfully urge the Department to thoroughly examine whether the proposed combination of Discovery and WarnerMedia will reduce the amount of diverse and inclusive media and entertainment content available to consumers… A more consolidated, less competitive marketplace may only reduce the competitive pressure on media companies to provide consumers with more diverse and inclusive programming,” the members continued.  

The letter is also signed by U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Representatives Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson , Jr. (D-Ga.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Al Green (D-Texas), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-Texas), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Michael F. Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).