Hollywood’s Urge To Merge Is Dampened By Antitrust Policy Debate In Washington

Dish Merges With EchoStar, Buying Time For Ergen’s Mobile Empire

Dish Network Corp. and EchoStar Corp. have completed their merger, reuniting Charlie Ergen’s satellite empire once again. The deal, which closed on Dec. 31, is key to Ergen’s plan to transition Dish away from the dwindling pay TV business and toward wireless services, challenging the likes of Verizon Communications, T-Mobile and AT&T. Dish, which had accrued significant debt, will now have access to more cash and time to expand its 5G network buildout and mobile and broadband offerings, including fixed home wireless and Boost Infinite, a low-cost mobile service.

Liberty Media Proposes Sirius XM Combination

Liberty Media said Tuesday that it has communicated a proposal to a special committee of the board of Sirius XM Holdings, outlining the terms of a proposed combination of the Liberty SiriusXM tracking stock group, with the satellite radio giant, led by CEO Jennifer Witz, to form a “new, consolidated public company.”

Football Leagues XFL And USFL In Merger Talks

Pro football leagues XFL and USFL are in advanced talks to merge, three sources familiar with the situation tell Axios. Combining the two may be the smartest path forward for the leagues given the challenges and the history of failure for NFL alternatives. The merger would be structured as a merger of equals and would require regulatory approval, one of the sources said. The leagues hope to combine before the 2024 seasons.

Microsoft-Activision Antitrust Win Raises M&A Revival Hopes

Microsoft Corp.’s success fighting the Federal Trade Commission’s challenge to its $69 billion Activision Blizzard Inc. acquisition could ease the path to more deals at a time when Wall Street has been confronting a severe merger drought. Stiffer enforcement by the FTC and Justice Department under the Biden administration has deterred a number of deals in recent years, but those regulators’ losing record in the courtroom will likely weaken that effect, experts say.

Biden Administration Unveils Tougher Guidelines On Mergers

The proposed road map for regulatory reviews, last updated in 2020, includes a focus on tech platforms for the first time. Pictured: Jonathan Kanter, who leads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, at a Senate hearing last September. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa, via Associated Press)

SPAC Tied To Trump’s Media Business Says It Has Deal With Regulators

Digital World’s settlement with the SEC could clear the way for a merger with Trump Media & Technology Group.

PGA Tour To Merge With Saudi-Backed Rival LIV Golf

the PGA Tour and European tour agreed to a merger with Saudi Arabia’s golf interests, creating a commercial operation designed to unify professional golf around the world. As part of the deal, the sides are dropping all lawsuits involving LIV Golf against each other effective immediately.

Canada Clears Rogers-Shaw Deal But With Conditions

Analyst Sees A More Magical Kingdom If Apple Acquires Disney

Some things just go better together, and Needham analyst Laura Martin believes Apple and The Walt Disney Co. are two of those things. “Combining Apple’s distribution footprint of 1.25 billion unique customers with Disney’s 570 million consumers reached each year would drive 15% to 25% valuation upside for Apple shareholders,“ Martin said in a research note.

Rogers, Shaw Extend Closing Date Of Merger To Feb. 17

Canada’s Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications said on Monday they extended the deadline for their C$20 billion ($15.01 billion) merger to Feb. 17 from the end of January, as the companies await government approval. The deal requires the final approval from Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne for the transfer of spectrum licenses held by Shaw’s Freedom Mobile unit to Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron.

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav: “We Are Not For Sale”

The top brass at Warner Bros. Discovery held a company-wide town hall Wednesday over Zoom in which they laid out the current state of the company and the industry, acknowledging the hard times amid a slew of cost-cutting and layoffs and emphatically addressing merger rumors with CEO David Zaslav exclaiming, “We are not for sale, absolutely, not for sale.”

Merger Of French Broadcasters TF1 And M6 Abandoned

Canada Orders Investigation Into 19-Hour Rogers Outage; Could Complicate Shaw Merger

FTC, DOJ Launch Joint Inquiry Aimed At Blocking Illegal Mergers

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s antitrust division on Tuesday launched a new inquiry aimed at updating guidelines to block illegal mergers. The agencies are seeking public input to update guidelines over the next 60 days.

CTV Ad Companies VideoByte And VideoBridge To Merge

Insider: Any Potential ViacomCBS-Comcast Deal On Hold

ViacomCBS and Comcast’s potential partnership has been slowed by concern about the Biden Administration’s pledge to aggressively enforce the nation’s antitrust laws, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Both sides are waiting to see how the new administration’s regulators react to the proposed merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit with Discovery, says the source, before resuming discussions about ways the two sides could work together — including any possible business combination — beyond a possible streaming partnership outside the U.S.

Sen. Hawley Bill Would Presumptively Block ‘Biggest’ Tech Mergers

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last week proposed an amendment to a budget bill that would prohibit the merger of some Big Tech companies by presumptively preventing any merger or acquisitions involving a “market-dominant online platform.” That would mean the dominant player would have to affirmatively show that a merger or purchase was not anticompetitive.

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Analyst: WarnerMedia, NBCU Should Merge

“It is time for both AT&T and Comcast to abandon the fool’s gold of vertical integration of content and distribution and merge NBCUniversal with WarnerMedia,” LightShedPartners analyst Richard Greenfield argued last week. Will this vision actually become reality? “We doubt it,” he adds.

Dish’s Ergen On DirecTV Satellite Merger: Still ‘Inevitable’

A deal will happen, ‘whether it’s a year from now or 10 years from now,’ he says.

DOJ Shoots Down DirecTV-Dish Merger Again

Charlie Ergen’s dream of merging his Dish Network with AT&T’s DirecTV has been squashed by the Department of Justice — yet again. Regulators with the DOJ’s antitrust division recently informed executives of AT&T that a marriage between DirecTV and Dish would likely have to wait until faster 5G wireless service is more widely available in rural markets, two sourc­es close to the situation said.

FTC, DOJ Propose Changes To Antitrust Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are seeking comment on a couple of proposed changes to the automatic Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) antitrust reviews, which are required of large mergers (ones valued at at least $94 million). The FTC and DOJ divide up antitrust reviews, with DOJ generally handling the media merger reviews.

FTC Expands Merger Approval Lookbacks

The Federal Trade Commission is expanding its retrospective analysis into the impact of mergers it has approved over the past three-plus decades. That comes as both the FTC and Department of Justice are looking at whether Big Tech mergers that got pro forma sign-offs because they were not large enough to trigger antitrust reviews should have been captured by competition reviews.

NEWS ANALYSIS

DirecTV-Dish Merger May No Longer Make Sense

Shareholder Lawsuit Blasts Shari Redstone’s ‘Persistent Influence’ In Viacom-CBS Merger

Streamer FuboTV, Facebank Group To Merge

FuboTV — a U.S.-based video streaming service offering a premium, over-the-top bundle of sports TV channels — has inked a deal to merge with Facebank Group, a developer of technology IP. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the proposed merger aims to create a sports-first digital entertainment alternative online for cord-cutters and cord-nevers.

DOJ, FTC Schedule Vertical Merger Workshops

The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are teaming up for two public workshops on drafts of new vertical merger guidelines. Vertical mergers are ones that combine different parts of the same supply chain, an AT&T with its video services and Time Warner with its content production, for example. DOJ and the FTC divvy up reviews of mergers for potential anticompetitive effects.

Feds Mull Blocking John Malone’s Sirius-iHeartRadio Merger

Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot Sign Merger Deal

The companies said in a joint statement the new group will be led by PSA’s cost-cutting CEO Carlo Tavares, with Fiat Chrysler’s Chairman John Elkann as chairman of the merged company. Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley will stay on, but it was not announced in what capacity. No name for the new company has been decided.

Televisa Wins Injunction On Disney-Fox Deal

Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa won an injunction against Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets in Mexico, but Mexico’s market regulator said on Thursday that the ruling would not stall the deal.

Investment Firms Snap Up Former Media Execs

The shake-out in media and entertainment after a few years of mergers, cost-cutting initiatives and massive restructurings has thrust many experienced executives back onto the job market — but they’re not all landing at mainstream Hollywood companies. A growing number of them are making their way into new roles as partners, advisers or entrepreneurs-in-residence at private equity and venture capital funds.

Viacom, CBS Shares Rise On Their Final Day

Viacom and CBS shares perked up Wednesday, each rising more than 3% in their final day of trading as separate companies. The media companies’ all-stock merger took effect after the closing bell. Shares in ViacomCBS will begin trading Thursday morning on the Nasdaq.

ViacomCBS Closes As Wall St. Debates Outlook

Management touts the firm’s big U.S. TV audience share, content library, growing streaming services and international upside, but some analysts say investors want to see proof of the merger benefits over time.

CBS Ordered To Disclose Viacom Records

A Delaware judge on Monday ordered CBS Corp. to turn over records regarding its plan to reunite with Viacom to a shareholder who wants to investigate if the deal unfairly benefits Shari Redstone, who controls both companies.

CBS And Viacom Reveal Dec. Merger Date

CBS and Viacom expect their re-merger to become official after the U.S. stock markets close on Wednesday, Dec. 4, the companies said this morning.

Shareholders OK Gannett-New Media Merger

Shareholders cleared the way Thursday for New Media Investment Group and USA Today owner Gannett to join forces in a deal that will create the largest U.S. media company by print circulation, and one that will also vie for the biggest online news audience nationwide. In separate votes, shareholders of each company approved New Media’s $1.13 billion acquisition of Gannett. The companies can now move forward to finalize the deal, which is expected to close Tuesday, Nov. 19.

FCC Approves T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

The FCC has issued the text of its decision approving the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. That came in the form of a Memorandum Opinion and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Order of Proposed Modification. The FCC modified some build-out requirements on Dish spectrum as part of the spin-off of the merged company’s Boost Mobile prepaid operations to the satellite operator.

Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot Agree To Merge

The merger would bring together Italian-American Fiat Chrysler, with its strong footprint in North America where it makes at least two-thirds of its profits, and France’s PSA Peugeot, the No. 2 automaker in Europe. Both lag in China, despite the participation of the Chinese shareholder Dongfeng, in PSA Peugeot, and are catching up in the transition to electrified powertrains.

Viacom, CBS Move Closer To Closing Merger

Viacom and CBS said their merger is getting nearer to completion and that a closing is now expected in early December. The companies said that the merger proposals have been approved by National Amusements, the investment company owned by the Redstone family that controls both Viacom and CBS.

FCC Approves T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

The FCC today voted along party lines to approve the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, meaning the deal has received the full blessing of the U.S. government. But the merger is still facing a significant obstacle as more than a dozen state attorneys general forge ahead in their lawsuit to block the deal.