The question of corporate conglomeration has become a major concern for consumers, politicians and global citizens in general in this new era of increasingly blurred boundaries between the technology, finance and entertainment industries. Once disparate entities like investment firms, movie studios and tech companies are more and more combining forces to utilize each other’s resources, creating massive business empires the likes of which haven’t been seen since the “trust-busting” wave of the early 20th Century.
One such example of this happened earlier this year, when Legendary Pictures (Jurassic World, Godzilla) was acquired by China’s Wanda Group, the country’s largest theater conglomerate. We can now add another potential giant to the mix: AT&T is moving to purchase the already-immense Time Warner corporation.
Per WSJ, the deal is said to be for the impressive sum of $80 billion; a larger number than most individual persons can easily conceive but one likely seen as a long-term “bargain” in terms of the powerful business entity that it would create. AT&T is already itself a global giant of the communications industry with many subsidiaries and partners already under its belt. Meanwhile, the Time Warner empire includes everything from movie studios to TV networks to publishing houses to video game developers to DC Comics.
The buyout is expected to be heavily scrutinized by U.S. federal regulators, as it would involve the consolidation of wide-ranging powers over multiple industries and potential for consumer-unfriendly policies (intended or otherwise) enabled by a dramatically lessened field of competition. There does not, however, appear to be any obvious immediate issue being specifically raised by said regulators at this juncture. AT&T even successfully navigated a similar purchase of DirecTV and its associates over a year ago.
While full details of the deal are yet to come to light, the corporate machinations have already been injected into the highly-charged U.S. Presidential Campaign – currently entering its final stretch before the November 4th Election Day. Republican candidate Donald Trump, himself a onetime noteworthy business leader, has raised eyebrows by coming out against the deal, saying that if elected his administration will block the acquisition because “it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” (It is not immediately clear what political mechanism Trump believes would enable him to take such action.)
It remains to be seen how this impending deal will effect TV and film productions currently underway in the Time Warner family. The company currently owns Warner Bros, DC Entertainment, Warner Interactive, Hanna-Barbera Productions, and the cable networks TBS, TNT, HBO and CNN, as well as Cartoon Network. It is also a joint owner of The CW with CBS.