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Amazon’s deal to buy MGM, the movie studio behind the “James Bond” franchise, is facing antitrust heat from the Federal Trade Commission, according to a new report.
The FTC’s new chairwoman Lina Khan, a 32-year-old legal prodigy who most recently was a professor at Columbia Law School, has blasted the Seattle-based e-tailing giant’s relentless expansion and alleged monopolistic power as it faces scrutiny from federal lawmakers.
The latest coup for Amazon’s billionaire boss Jeff Bezos — a deal to buy MGM for $8.45 billion — would boost its streaming service Prime Video and help level a playing field which includes streaming giants Netflix and Disney+.
The deal would give Amazon access to MGM’s library of more than 4,000 films, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the “Rocky” movie franchise and reality shows “Shark Tank” and “The Apprentice.”
Companies doing major mergers, however, are required to submit their deals for antitrust review. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, The FTC, which shares antitrust authority with the Justice Department, is helming the Amazon-MGM merger review.
Citing anonymous sources, the report says that the FTC “pushed for jurisdiction over the merger review” because it already had “an open, wide-ranging antitrust investigation into Amazon’s business practices.”
The MGM review will be a key test for the FTC’s Khan, who has previously criticized antitrust law for failing to restrain Amazon. Meanwhile, Amazon is facing a lawsuit filed by Washington DC’s attorney general last month that alleges the company raises prices on products from other manufacturers while it sells competing products at a lower price.
The FTC has lately been busy in the tech sector, splitting with the DOJ a major investigation of tech giants, Apple, Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Amazon over their conduct.
While Amazon’s business is primarily e-commerce, it has been extending its tentacles into media in recent years in both streaming and buying media rights. Amazon recently inked an $11 billion deal with the NFL to become the new home of “Thursday Night Football.”
Amazon’s footprint in the streaming world is still less dominant even with MGM, but the company’s broad reach over several industries may cause critics in Washington, who already believe it is too powerful, to raise red flags and block the deal.
The FTC has reviewed a slew of big media deals in recent years, including Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which the department unsuccessfully tried to block in court.
Neither the FTC nor Amazon returned requests for comment.
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