|Writers Guild to Present Testimony Against AT&T – DirecTV Merger
WGAW President Chris Keyser on the Hill Tuesday
WASHINGTON DC -- Chris Keyser, President of the Writers Guild of America, West, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on Tuesday, June 24, 2:30 p.m. (EST). Mr. Keyser will testify against the proposed merger of AT&T and DirecTV. Chaired by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes oversight of antitrust law and competition policy, with Tuesday’s hearing focused on the AT&T – DirecTV merger and its impact on competition and consumers.
The negative repercussions for the creative community of the recent spate of proposed mergers between cable television distributors and Internet service providers, like Comcast – Time Warner Cable and AT&T – DirecTV, are all too predictable. “They will use their power to force content providers to accept below market rates for their product," states Mr. Keyser in his testimony. "It is a stated goal of the merger to reduce affiliate fees. The problem is: it is those fees that have fueled the recent boom in creative programming – particularly on cable. Reduce those fees through the outsized power of monopoly – and the result is less creativity, less product, less innovation."
These mergers also threaten progress currently underway in the online video market. Services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are reintroducing independent programming and enhancing consumer choice. But, as Mr. Keyser states, “The largest multichannel video programming distributors and Internet service providers have every reason to fear and every incentive to limit the growth of online video competition that could threaten their dominance.”
If the Comcast – Time Warner Cable and AT&T – DirecTV mergers are approved the two media conglomerates would control half of cable and Internet distribution in the United States. Mr. Keyser asks, “Where does that leave consumers, entrepreneurs and the creative community? This level of concentration among a few giant distributors makes inevitable tacit collusion on price, choice and service. These mergers cannot be managed with conditions that may be ineffective, insufficient or simply ignored. They are not in the public interest, they threaten to stifle competition and innovation, and they should not be approved.”
For WGAW President Keyser’s written testimony, click here.
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.