The Coalition for Local News is not a fan of Disney’s latest announcement confirming it is now in the process of purchasing the remaining one-third stake in Hulu. According to the Coalition, this deal will result in control of the industry falling further into the hands of the few.
Disney has been the majority owner of Hulu for a few years now. As part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019, Disney and Comcast agreed a new that gave Disney control of Hulu, with a view to Disney purchasing Comcast’s remaining one-third stake within five years.
Earlier this week, Disney publicly announced that the original 2019 agreement was moving forward, and that it would finalize a purchase of the remaining Hulu stake. After which, Disney will fully, and solely, own Hulu.
In response to this development, The Coalition for Local News provided the following statement to Streaming Better:
“This announcement has drastic implications for the marketplace. A tiny number of companies is now positioned to dominate the future of live streaming while rapidly taking market share from traditional cable and satellite. Against this backdrop of consolidation, it’s now more urgent than ever for the FCC to use their authority to refresh the record and examine how best to protect competition, promote localism and ensure access to the most valued content, including local news.”
As the Coalition makes clear, it views the finalizing of the deal as an example of how the number of companies in control of live TV streaming will shrink further. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, especially considering Disney already had full operational control over Hulu. Not to mention, this deal was agreed in 2019, with the current negotiations strictly focused on how much Hulu is actually worth.
Still, the wider point being made by the Coalition remains, as the deal could have implications for the industry, and potentially will for the channels and networks the Coalition represents.
The Coalition for Local News acts on behalf of local broadcast station groups, and is supported by the ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS television Affiliate Associations. One of the goals of the Coalition is to get the FCC to address the “streaming loophole” that allows online streaming services to avoid negotiating carriage agreements directly with local broadcasters.
Considering Disney, along with many of the other major players in the streaming industry, support the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, which was formed, in part, in response to calls for regulatory change, and even more recently, formed the Streaming Innovation Alliance, it makes sense that the Coalition for Local News would view Disney assuming any additional control as potentially bad for the industry.