Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy and former senior policy advisor and budget analyst for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has written a persuasive essay about why the Walt Disney Company should be broken up. He won’t be the last person to make this case.

Stoller lays out a detailed argument on how Disney, in its fifteen years under the leadership of CEO Bob Iger, has turned into a “vertically integrated global monopolist over entertainment” that engages in anti-competitive behavior and significantly reduces choices that consumers have in the marketplace, while hurting the careers of creators. Writes Stoller:

As I’ll show, the new Disney is more a private equity group than studio, collecting brands and using them to bargain aggressively with partners, suppliers and consumers. Imperial Disney is the result not of animation genius but mergers and acquisitions genius. It is not a corporation that pushes the bounds of artistic and technological possibility but a corporation that pushes the bounds of legal possibility under the radical pro-consolidation framework that has existed since the 1990s, as well as the Clinton-era ‘engagement’ framework that encouraged deep integration of American multi-nationals into China.

The article touches on a lot of different topics, each of which could be delved into more deeply, from the Disney Company’s abuse of copyright powers to the way that the company limits consumer access by creating artificial scarcity, and from how Disney demands coercive terms from theater owners that show its films to how the corporation has become a willing mouthpiece for Chinese propaganda.

Despite Disney’s seemingly unstoppable power, Stoller’s final assessment of the situation is hopeful:

The nice thing is that we’ve dealt with similar problems in the past, and succeeded. And I’m pretty confident that we can do so again. After all, imperial Disney is less than 15 years old. The public policy underpinning Disney’s consolidation of power isn’t a permanent state of being, it’s just a particularly noxious way of regulating our entertainment industry.

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.

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