The Trump era has now seen two major media mergers halted or almost stopped — Sinclair Broadcast Group’s combination with Tribune Media, and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Both transactions met with turbulence from the feds, but that does not signal that media consolidation will be slowed in the coming years — far from it. In fact, getting far less attention are moves that likely will encourage more media mergers and acquisitions down the road. Here are a few examples:
Netflix chief Reed Hastings — who has been an ardent and vocal supporter of net neutrality rules to ensure service providers don’t discriminate against internet content companies — said the US reversal on net neutrality won’t have an impact on the streamer’s business. “Around the world, net neutrality has won as a consumer expectation,” Hastings said. “I would say the net neutrality advocates have won the day, in terms of those expectations, so we don’t see any changes of that in the US or other countries.”
Comcast moved quickly to counter 21st Century Fox’s latest bid for Sky, raising its offer to $34 billion on the same day that Fox upped its buyout bid for the European satellite TV provider. Comcast said its higher bid has been recommended by Sky’s committee of independent directors evaluating the swirl of bidding for the satcaster. Earlier July 11, the same committee recommended Fox’s higher bid but reversed course after receiving the outline of Comcast’s higher offer.
The Justice Department is urging a federal judge to block AT&T-Time Warner’s proposed merger or require a significant sale of assets, rather than impose “behavioral” conditions on the deal like an agreement to arbitrate disputes with distribution rivals. In its post-trial brief, the government says that US District Judge Richard Leon could allow the merger on the condition that it not include Time Warner-unit Turner networks, or that AT&T sell off DirecTV.
Most reporters share a sense that covering President Donald Trump is a challenge like no other, at a time when political journalists and the First Amendment are under siege. With the easy accessibility of social media, some political reporters find themselves getting death threats.
The biggest risk to Facebook — and the digital-ad business overall — would be a wide-ranging privacy-protection law on the order of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act in the banking sector. That established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, designed to keep predatory lenders in check, along with a host of new regulations.