Trouble in Tinseltown
It’s happening: America’s $134 billion film and television industry has come to a grinding halt after the Hollywood Actors Guild voted to strike, joining screenwriters and shutting down nearly all productions.
The move reflects the increasingly aggressive US labor movement, which has been struggling against Starbucks, Amazon, UPS and others. Only in this case does the dispute involve one of the most visible industries – and there is no sign of compromise in sight.
The Actors Guild criticized the studios for refusing to bend over major issues, Including higher payouts for streaming titles and clear limits on the use of artificial intelligence. “How they pretend to be poor, that they’re losing money right and left when they give hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs,” said Fran Drescher, the TV actor who now leads the SAG-AFTRA union. “It sucks. Shame on them!”
Studios claim union demands are unrealistic, Looking at the challenges facing the entertainment industry, from streaming to the fallout from the pandemic. “This is the worst time in the world to add to this disorder,” Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, on CNBC yesterday. (More on it later).
Expect more comments like this next week on the media companies’ earnings calls.
The Tinseltown facade quickly faded. With actors now banned from promoting their films, the actor from Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” walked out in the middle of the film’s premiere in London. And the campaign for the Emmy-nominated shows, which was announced on Wednesday, has been halted.
This will have consequences for other Hollywood industries, including advertising and talent agencies, celebrity and merchandising publications and film festivals. “the Celebrity Factory is closedJanice Maine, president of entertainment magazine The Ankler, told Vanity Fair. “If this goes on for too long, you will feel it across the entire Internet.”
In some ways, it really can strike benefit studios and broadcast platforms. The lack of new shows and movies may allow them to fall back on the expensive production deals they signed during the content boom.
But the longer the strikes lasted, the more fans worried about the lack of new written content. (Fall TV schedules are packed with reality shows and games.) Streaming for giants with vast libraries may be okay, but less stocked services could face a slew of cancellations, and studios selling to other platforms could be in increasingly dire straits.
Here’s what happens
The SEC’s crypto campaign is suffering a setback. The regulator argued that digital assets should be treated as securities, but A A judge ruled yesterday that cryptocurrency firm Ripple did not violate securities law in selling its XRP token on public exchanges. Elsewhere, Alex Machinsky, founder of the bankrupt Celsius Bank, was arrested for fraud and lying about the company’s business model.
Aspartame has been declared a potential cancer risk. The World Health Organization has joined research agencies in saying that the widely used artificial sweetener is a possible carcinogen. Experts disagree about what constitutes an unsafe level of consumption, but Wall Street analysts say the warning could hurt the sale of diet soda and other products.
Tucker Carlson is reportedly planning to start a new media company. Former Fox News host and George W. Bush White House adviser Neil Patel is seeking to raise funding for a subscription-based project, According to The Wall Street Journal. Last month, Carlson returned to the public eye with a Twitter version of his popular Fox show, but so did his audience in sharp decline.
A new era of deal-making at Disney?
A day after Bob Iger extended his position as Disney CEO by two years, the entertainment mogul indicated he was considering a bigger shake-up at the media giant, including potential deals for ESPN and other channels like ABC.
Notes suggest Iger, who has overseen some of Disney’s biggest acquisitions, may be cutting more deals – albeit as a salesman. The big question is: Who will he do them with?
Iger is under pressure to turn Disney’s fortunes around After laying off thousands and cutting costs. Even though it’s been challenged by activist investor Nelson Peltz, shareholders can’t be happy with Disney’s sluggish stock price.
Here’s what an Iger change might look like:
Disney may sell a stake in ESPN, which has suffered a sharp decline in cable subscriptions, to a partner who could help the sports network improve its online reach and pay for increasingly expensive broadcast rights. The likely candidates would be the tech giants who own online video platforms, including Apple (a buyer of Disney who has often reported antitrust concerns), Google and Amazon.
Buyers of ABC and cable channels like FX are less clear cut, because a deal with another media giant could spark opposition from antitrust regulators. Wells Fargo analyst Stephen Cahal speculated so Private equity or hedge funds It might jump in, tempted by the companies steady cash flow and the opportunity to cut margins (as they did with newspapers).
How serious is Iger about selling? His comments may have been meant to test investors’ reaction. (He previously hinted that Disney might sell its majority stake in Hulu, before saying he would Most likely buying Comcast stake On the stand.) Disney shares barely fell yesterday after his remarks.
But Egger has been pessimistic about traditional television for some time. “Linear TV is walking into a great abyss and it will be pushed away,” he said He said at the Code conference last year. “I can’t tell you when, but it goes away.”
The Unexpected Fan Club of Lena Khan
A tough week for Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lena Khan ended with a barbecue on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, an effort to block Microsoft’s $70 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard lost. The organizer appealed the ruling, but bid to Deal delay While the appeal was heard, it was rejected.
But even as the FTC faces a court battle over one fight, it has started another by opening an investigation into ChatGPT maker OpenAI over whether the chatbot harms consumers.
The news meant that all eyes were on Khan’s appearance before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, which has been described as an examination of her “mismanagement” after a series of failed legal challenges. But the hearing revealed surprising support from some contradictory investigators.
Republicans questioned her tactics. Khan has been pressed about why the FTC should appeal Microsoft’s ruling when other jurisdictions, such as the European Union, have agreed to the deal. (declined to comment). Khan also faced accusations and threats. “Actions have consequences, Madam President,” warned Ben Kline, R-Va., who said the Appropriations Committee is examining the FTC’s budget requests and appropriating less than it sought in response to the agency’s “rankly partisanship.” Khan was not given the opportunity to respond.
But Khan has found some unexpected admirers. “I want to encourage your work,” Matt Gaetz, a conservative Republican from Florida and fellow attorney, told her. He praised the crackdown on data brokers who sell sensitive information. Gates added that legal defeats were common when pressing for new cases, and urged Khan to seek help in Congress “if the laws aren’t enough.”
Others praised Khan’s tough stance on Big Tech. Ken Buck, R-Col., noted that Khan has no financial ties to tech companies — unlike some of his fellow congressmen. “They spent $250 million on bills passed by this committee in the last Congress,” he said of companies like Google and Meta.
Pak said he and Khan knew about it “The need to modernize antitrust laws” for a new economy gives Khan the opportunity to say that today’s rules are based on assumptions that are not appropriate for the digital age.
In other news: Britain’s antitrust watchdog, which blocked a Microsoft deal in April only to reopen its investigation a day after the US court’s ruling, will Deadline extension to investigate in six weeks. Reportedly companies can Sale of some UK cloud play rights to win approval.
The PGA Tour throws in a no-poaching agreement
As regulatory scrutiny intensifies, the PGA Tour has abandoned one of the binding provisions built into its initial deal with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league: a non-poaching agreement that would have been legally problematic.
The ruling, which would have covered players from the tour and the LIV, was postponed to stave off the Department of Justice’s wrath, according to The Times’s Alan Blinder, Kevin Draper and DealBook’s Lauren Hirsch.
The no solicitation clause was seen as a way to prevent tourist golfers from immigrating to LIV, which used huge prize payments to lure top players into the breakaway league. (Rory McIlroy, a staunch opponent of LIV Golf, said yesterday he would rather quit the game than play for competitive competition despite the riches on offer.) The White House has been taking such deals. William E. Kovacic, former chair of the Federal Trade Commission, told DealBook that the language seems “correct in the field of vision that the Department of Justice has set out in the No-Poaching Law Enforcement Program.”
There was more problematic language in this week’s Senate hearing Involve PGA Tour officials. Antitrust experts focused on comments made by Jimmy Dunn, vice president of Piper Sandler who is on the round’s board. He testified before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that he feared LIV would “ruin the round,” necessitating negotiations for accession.
Gerald Mattman, who heads the teamwork group at law firm Duane Morris, told DealBook that such comments could underscore concerns about the deal going to solidify the round lock in the market. “Soft lips can sink ships from an antitrust standpoint,” he said.
Exxon Mobil He agreed to buy Denbury carbon capture company for $4.9 billion. (Reuters)
Adobe’s $20 billion bid for Figma is facing bid In-depth investigation by the British antitrust regulator. (the edge)
Explore startups in Silicon Valley Sales to larger companies With investment funding drying up. (foot)
James Pollard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, to take over as dean of the Purdue University School of Business. (Reuters)
A love affair with Big Tech Low tax countries Under Threat” (The Wall Street Journal)
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