MONOPOLY: The Disney+ Edition


Chandler Roberts, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Everyone loves Disney, right?

They make fun movies for the whole family, stories of rats who know how to cook, and musicals about a lion who loses his way and comes back to be the rightful king. Even some of the products their subsidiaries make are fun: superheroes saving the world again and again and stories of toys coming to life.

In this land of whimsy and entertainment they create, there is another, far more terrifying side to the company. The joke is that if any company goes against Disney they should just “buy it up.” Well the joke’s gone on long enough, this isn’t some funny game. There are real consequences to Disney owning what seems like everything.

Disney owns about 40% of the movie and TV industries, according to media research company MoffettNathanson. This includes Marvel, ABC, Lucas Film and Pixar. In addition they have 10% stakes in Vice Media, 80% stakes in ESPN. They also now own 20th Century Fox.

That merger was historic. Usually when two titans such as Disney and Fox try to merge, it raises legal concerns, as it did when Time Warner merged with AT&T in 2016. The two companies faced significant interference from the U.S. Department Of Justice for this, while Disney and Fox did not.

Why? In the case of Time Warner and AT&T, the Justice Department presented the argument that the merger violated Article 7 of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914. Article 7 was referenced because it handles Mergers and Acquisitions that “may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly” according to the Federal Trade Commission. Eventually, the merger took place but the Justice Department has continued in its attempts to break them apart.

Disney and Fox got none of this interference. Both companies are among the top 5 biggest media companies in the world, according to Business Insider. If anything, would affect the consumer even more with its ownership of so many properties, but the same Justice Department did nothing to stop it.

The main issue is inconsistency; the same rules were being violated yet each merger was challenged unevenly. Disney and Fox should have been challenged more for their domination of the film and television industry. Of the top 100 highest grossing films of all time, only 48 weren’t created by either Disney or Fox according to Box Office Mojo, and a majority of the films from other companies weren’t even in the top 25.

Disney has fought for nearly a century to keep Mickey Mouse out of public domain, which changed laws just to suit Disney’s needs.

When Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, the policy allowed for a copyright to exist for 28 years, with the capability to extend it 28 more, given that the creator is still alive. Therefore, Mickey Mouse should have become public domain in 1984. In 1976, however, Congress changed the copyright system extend to the creator’s lifetime plus 50 years. For our dear mouse friend, this would push Mickey’s deadline to 2003. It never made it to public domain because Congress changed the laws again so that it would be the creator’s lifespan and 70 years. How convenient! Now Disney has until 2023 to figure out how to keep Mickey out of public domain.

This just seems like a list of things Disney has done, you may be thinking to yourself, why should I be scared? Well that is the thing to fear. If every form of entertainment is owned by Disney hypothetically, it is going to create a monopoly.

There may start to be a lack of creativity seeping into the company. Did anyone say, live-action remakes? The company owns a minimal amount of Vice Media as stated earlier, but they could influence news to be in their favor. In fact, if they do own everything, they could silence anyone trying to speak out about their monopolizing of the Industry.

Other than just entertainment, Disney branches out into other industries as well. They pretty much own theme parks already and have for a long time and they gain loads of money from merchandising.

In addition, they are starting a streaming service in November to compete with companies like Netflix. Disney already owns Hulu, but they are creating a platform exclusively for the content of themselves and their subsidiaries. If you want to watch any old films, they got you there. Any original series they create will also likely go straight there, or to ABC which they also own.

For those who think: “I don’t watch TV or movies, I watch YouTube and Twitch live streams,” Sorry to say that Disney also has a Disney Digital Network that manages incredibly popular YouTubers and streamers who have a collective 44 million subscribers.

So, what can be done? Well you don’t have to boycott Disney — that would be extremely tough seeing as they are everywhere. But raise concerns with other people, write to people in power to try and break them up, never stop talking about it, and please, if any company crosses Disney, do not encourage them. It can truly lead to a monopolization of the entertainment industry and no one needs that. Also don’t fall right into their consumer traps like Disney+ and Disneyland. You don’t need to go there every year, it’s the same rides. You’re just funding their takeover.