LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) on Thursday urged federal regulators to increase their oversight of the streaming media business, saying Walt Disney, Amazon.com and Netflix had amassed too much power.
The guild, which has been on strike since May 2, issued a report arguing that the three companies were poised to become “the new gatekeepers of media” and have abused their positions “to further disadvantage competitors, raise prices for consumers, and push down wages for the creative workforce.”
The union urged regulators to block any further consolidation in the industry, “proactively investigate anti-competitive issues and outcomes” and increase regulation and oversight of the streaming business.
Representatives for Disney, Amazon and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission referred to recent comments in a podcast by Chair Linda Khan.
“The combination of this consolidation and vertical integration seems to have created a market structure where we hear about how writers and producers and showrunners are all making less, even as companies are charging customers more. And critics seem to say that the quality of content being produced is actually in decline,” Khan told The Ankler podcast.
“So increasingly we see some of the red flags that suggest the market structure is not actually serving the creators or the ultimate viewers,” Khan added.
The roughly 11,500 members of the WGA have called for higher compensation, staffing guarantees and protections around the use of artificial intelligence (AI), among other demands, in talks with Hollywood studios. The SAG-AFTRA actors union, which went on strike July 14, also is seeking an increase in base pay and residuals.
WGA and studio negotiators recently returned to the bargaining table but have yet to reach a deal.
The WGA letter did not single out other companies, including Apple, Google parent Alphabet and Warner Bros Discovery, which also offer streaming media options.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski; Editing by David Gregorio)
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