The cult Hollywood studio MGM bought by Amazon? The project seems to be well underway, but across the Atlantic, the unions are windy. According to them, such an acquisition should not take place. They fear the influence and growing power of the company founded by Jeff Bezos in the subscription video streaming (SVOD) industry. And they are not the only ones: several political figures have expressed similar concerns. In a statement released Monday, November 22, the Strategic Organizing Center, which claims to represent some four million employees, estimates that “Amazon’s influence on the health and diversity of the film industry is likely to be negative if we let the business grow even more “.

It calls on the American competition authority (FTC) to oppose this takeover announced last May. For an amount of 8.45 billion dollars, Amazon has offered more than 4,000 films, including the James Bond saga, The Silence of the Lambs, Robocop, Basic Instinct, Raging Bull or Thelma & Louise, as well as an extensive catalog series, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo and Vikings. “Amazon’s current control over already massive amounts of content means that the merger will give it even more power to exclude its competitors,” the federation continues in its letter.

She estimates that Amazon will control around 56,000 titles thanks to the buyout, far ahead of Netflix which would have just under 20,000 titles. The unions further argue that Amazon’s market power is not only horizontal but also vertical, with the sale of electronic devices for video streaming (the “Fire” line) and cloud services ( remote computing) for storing the content of its competitors, starting with Netflix, the most popular of the platforms.

Amazon’s defense

Solicited, Amazon highlighted the variety of choices currently available to consumers, citing in particular Netflix, Disney +, Apple TV +, HBO Max or Peacock. The company also notes that neither MGM nor Amazon were involved in the production or distribution of any of the 20 most successful films in the world in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The FTC and many US states have launched investigations and prosecutions against Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the famous GAFAs, which they accuse of abusing a dominant position in their various markets, from social networks to digital advertising to online commerce.

Amazon largely dominates the cloud, but it is above all its e-commerce platform that makes people cringe. The firm is both judge and party: it sets the rules and markets its own products. “The company has become accustomed to using its power to attack new markets through practices that we believe to be unfair and contrary to competition law,” the unions write. “This merger would allow Amazon to use the same methods against the video streaming industry, inevitably affecting producers and consumers, and reducing diversity.”


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