Hollywood, Our Industry Is at Stake in the 2020 Election (Guest Column)

The Trump Justice Department announced at the end of 2019 that it will seek to end the landmark Paramount Consent Decrees. These decrees arose from concerns in the 1940s that a group of entertainment companies wielded outsized power over the film business. They limited the largest Hollywood production studios’ ability to own movie theater chains, control ticket prices, and fill theater screens with their own content to the exclusion of independent films. The decision by today’s Justice Department to undo the decrees continues a disturbing trend of undermining laws and regulations that promote competition and curtail abusive practices of the largest corporations.

We are already seeing the effects of the Justice Department’s hasty approval of the Disney-Fox merger. This massive corporation has used its increased market share to aggressively pursue its franchise strategy while reducing the number of films it produces, creating an artificial scarcity that reportedly now extends to classic Fox movies like “Alien” which have been withdrawn from some independent movie theaters. This strategy may redistribute wealth to Disney, but it is a grave threat to independent theaters and independent film, along with the writers and others who create them.

The newest streaming services from traditional content companies — Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock— are all the product of companies permitted by regulators to consolidate horizontally, vertically, or both. By merging content companies with distribution channels — the very thing the Paramount consent decrees sought to regulate — these streaming services have been allowed to erect fences around their content, while under-pricing and bundling their services with other products, making it even harder for new independent producers to enter the market. Without reasonable regulations, this small group of powerful companies will be able to prevent new competition for writers’ work, once again using monopoly power to destroy free markets.

Popular on Variety

This is an unfair playing field that our unions must navigate in every negotiation cycle and that we must navigate with every individual deal. But fighting for a more level field doesn’t solely happen at negotiations with our employers, it happens in the halls of power. It’s clear that without a change in political leadership, the trend toward increased concentration will continue. To that end, my union, the Writers Guild, formed a PAC in 2008, because writers must have a strong, collective voice in our political process. It is not enough for us to make individual contributions to politicians we believe in; like it or not, in politics we are most powerful if we speak through our Guild, with one voice.

The days when creators could sit on the political sidelines and hope that good policy and respect for fair play would result in a thriving middle class are long gone. It is crucial we fight to elect representatives who will fight for us.

Callie Khouri is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Thelma & Louise” and creator and executive producer of
Nashville.” She recently directed the Lifetime movie “Patsy & Loretta.” 

More Politics

  • Donald Trump acquittal

    Trump Campaign Sues New York Times Over Russia 'Collusion' Column

    The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the New York Times, alleging that the paper had defamed him by running a column that alluded to an “overarching deal” between Trump and Russia. The column, entitled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” was written by Max Frankel, the 89-year-old former executive editor of the [...]

  • Dem Debate

    Democratic Debate: Mike Bloomberg Slams Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren Hammers Both

    Mike Bloomberg threw his first punch early in Tuesday’s Democratic Debate in Charleston, S.C., taking aim at Bernie Sanders over recent reports that Russian hackers are trying to assist his campaign for the presidency. Bloomberg, the billionaire owner of Bloomberg News and former New York City mayor, responded to Sanders’ opening remarks about economic equality [...]

  • Police and rescue workers stand next

    Dozens Injured as Car Plows Into German Carnival Parade

    More than 30 people were injured on Monday in the western German town of Volkmarsen when a man drove his car into a crowd of people watching a carnival parade. The 29-year-old driver, reportedly a German national, is suspected of purposely targeting the crowd when he drove a Mercedes-Benz station wagon into the Rose Monday [...]

  • The Suspended Mourning

    Berlin: Hernan Caffiero Sets Up Two Series About Victims of Police Violence as Chilean Industry Protests Brutality (EXCLUSIVE)

    Inspired by the victims of violent crackdowns by Chilean police, filmmaker Hernán Caffiero is looking to tell their story. Caffiero is currently developing two series about human rights crimes and the effects of police brutality in Chile, one a four-part documentary, the other a follow-up to his Intl. Emmy-winning “The Suspended Mourning,” a dramatized collection [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada Democratic Caucus

    UPDATED: Bernie Sanders has won the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 46.8% of the delegates with 10% of precincts reporting. Joe Biden is in a distant second with 20.2%. Peter Buttigieg finished third with 14.3% with Elizabeth Warren in fourth with 9.7%. Tom Steyer finished fifth with 4.7%. Amy Klobuchar round [...]

  • Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Ditches Donald Trump for Mike Bloomberg in 2020 Election

    Longtime Republican Clint Eastwood is pulling support from Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the actor-director signaled that he thinks a different candidate would be the better choice. “The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there,” he said. After endorsing Mitt Romney [...]

  • EFM 1st European Film Politics Seminar

    Berlin: 1st European Film Politics Seminar - Protecting Independent Film Production

    Leading industry reps gathered on the opening day of Berlin’s European Film Market for what is certain to be a continuing discussion about leveling the playing field for independent producers across Europe and demanding greater engagement in the sector from global players. The 1st European Film Politics Seminar aims to set the political agenda of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content