US unions call for end of MGM buyout by Amazon

A consortium of U.S. unions on Monday called for the blocking of Amazon’s takeover of legendary Hollywood studio MGM, citing concerns about the tech giant’s growing power over the subscription video streaming industry.

“Amazon’s influence on the health and diversity of the film industry is likely to be negative if the company is allowed to expand,” said the Strategic Organizing Center, a federation of four major unions representing some four million workers. workers.

The group called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the buyout, which was announced in May.

Amazon has offered $ 8.45 billion for more than 4,000 films, including the James Bond series, “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Robocop”, “Basic Instinct”, “Raging Bull” and “Thelma & Louise”, as well than an extensive catalog of television series including “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Fargo” and “Vikings”.

“Amazon’s current control over massive amounts of streaming content means the merger is likely to give Amazon more incentive and power to exclude and discriminate against its competitors,” the group said in its statement.

He argued that the buyout would give Amazon control of some 56,000 titles, far ahead of Netflix, which would have just under 20,000.

The unions further argued that Amazon’s market power is not only “horizontal” but also “vertical”, with the sale of electronic devices for video streaming (the company’s “Fire” line ) and cloud services to store the content of its competitors, starting with Netflix, the most popular of the platforms.

Asked by AFP, Amazon highlighted the variety of choices currently available to consumers, citing Netflix, Disney +, Apple TV +, HBO Max and Peacock, among others.

The company also noted that neither MGM nor Amazon were involved in the production or distribution of one of the 20 most successful films in the world in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The FTC and numerous US states have launched investigations and lawsuits against Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, which they accuse of abusing their dominant position in their own markets, from social media to digital advertising and commerce. line.

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Amazon has largely emerged as the leader in the cloud services industry, but it is its overwhelming dominance of e-commerce that arouses the ire of its critics.

“The company has a long history of leveraging its dominance to gain a foothold in new markets using practices that we believe to be unfair and anti-competitive,” the unions said.

“This merger would allow Amazon to use the same playbook against the streaming video industry, inevitably impacting producers and consumers of video content and reducing diversity as it gains market share,” the unions said.