Democrat lawmakers 'urge' DOJ to investigate Warner Bros / Discovery merger after cancelation of Batgirl

The lawmakers said Batgirl was axed "reportedly to allow WBD to claim a tax break."

Joshua Young North Carolina

Four Democratic legislators, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department to investigate Warner Bros Discovery for limiting "consumer and worker choice," including the cancellation of Batgirl.

Texas Representative Joaquin Castro and Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline joined Warren and Jayapal in writing the letter, which was addressed to Garland and Jonathan Kanter, the DOJ's antitrust chief, and read that the four "respectfully urge the Justice Department to investigate the state of competition in affected labor and consumer markets" of the Warner Bros and Discovery+ merger as it "appears to have enabled Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) to adopt potentially anticompetitive practices that reduce consumer choice and harm workers in affected labor markets."

The four wrote that "The company has the incentive and ability to eliminate broad swaths of its workforce, leaving workers with fewer choices for employment and advancement." 

Last year, Warner Bros, who owns HBO and other properties such as CNN, merged with Discovery+, and new CEO David Zaslov cut many programs across the newly merged company's landscape, including Batgirl and CNN+. Zaslow also cut or reduced licensed content on services such as HBO Max, including episodes of Sesame Street

According to the letter, "Following the merger, WBD announced numerous labor-force reductions and product cancellations that would limit consumer and worker choice—cancelling (sic) several titles, including 'Batgirl,' which was deep into post-production, 'Gordita Chronicles,' 'Demimonde,' and 'The Time Traveler’s Wife.'"

The lawmakers went on about Batgirl and noted that the $90 film was nearly done with post-production and was axed "reportedly to allow WBD to claim a tax break."

Deadline reports that Warner Bros Discovery is just one of several entertainment giants to drop shows and staff, as Disney and Netflix have also made recent cuts.

The merger was reviewed at the time by the DOJ and was not challenged, reports Deadline, and it would be "unusual for the Justice Department to essentially reopen a review of a merger so shortly after it has been completed."

The new co-chairman and CEO of DC Studios, Peter Safran, said Batgirl was "not releasable" in February.

An anonymous Hollywood insider told the New York Post that audiences at test screenings received the film so poorly that they shuttered the project for the "sake of the brand's future."

"They think an unspeakable 'Batgirl' is going to be irredeemable," the insider told the Post.


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