The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) said the combination of AT&T and Discovery media assets would create a tsunami of family unfriendly programming, but suggests the deal is likely to be approved.
In response to the announced combo, PTC president Tim Winter said that he anticipates a streaming version of the cable bundle the advocacy group has been trying to unwind for years.
"The result will have consumers being forced to buy streaming network programming they don’t want in order to get the streaming network programming that they do want, and they will be forced to pay more in the process,” Winter said. “Consumers, meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.”
"We fear that the combination of mostly-family-friendly Discovery with increasingly-toxic HBO will put more children and more families at a greater risk of harm,” he said. PTC was no fan of the Time Warner deal that brought HBO into the AT&T fold.
Winter said another issue is that, according to PTC's recent study, the top streaming services don't have robust parental controls. And while he said it is likely that regulators could force some conditions on the combined company, "if Disney can buy the studio, library, and cable assets of Fox, we suspect approval of this acquisition is mostly perfunctory.”
The Biden Administration has pledged robust antitrust oversight, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has pushed for tougher reviews out of the FTC, which she says under the Trump Administration was working with Band-Aids and duct tape.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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