Sen. Klobuchar Raises Caution Flag on Amazon-MGM

Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduces Jamal Khashoggi Bill
(Image credit: N/A)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the powerful Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, said the Justice Department will need to scrutinize carefully Amazon's proposed purchase of MGM.

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Amazon has agreed to pay $8.45 billion for MGM assets, which include a library of 4,000 movies, including the Bond franchise, and over 17,000 episodes of TV.

Klobuchar, who has been no big fan of big media mergers, called the deal a major one that could impact millions of consumers--certainly that is what Amazon is hoping. 

"The Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that this deal won’t risk harming competition," said Klobuchar. Amazon would argue it is only trying to make its Amazon Prime more competitive with the 800 pound "King Kong vs. the Streamers": Netflix.

But if, as some analysts predict, other efforts to combine streamers with traditional studio assets--NCBU, ViacomCBS-- ensue, that yellow flag for D.C., particularly Democrats but also Republicans not looking for Big Tech to get more powerful, could turn to red.

Klobuchar called the proposal a reminder of why antitrust agencies--DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission divvy up antitrust reviews--need more funding so they can investigate such multibillion-dollar deals. "Our government cannot ensure major corporations are playing by the rules if enforcement agencies are chronically underfunded," she said.

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She took the opportunity to plug her legislation, which has passed the judiciary committee and would boost the resources needed to conduct the kind of vigorous review she wants of the Amazon-MGM deal.

John Eggerton

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.