WGA West Hails Blocking Of Merger Between Penguin Random House And Simon & Schuster

A federal judge’s ruling that blocked a $2.18 billion merger between book publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster is being hailed by the WGA West as a “tremendous victory for authors who, like screen and television writers, try to make a living selling their work to powerful conglomerates.”

The antitrust division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice had opposed the merger on grounds that it would have “reduced competition, decreased author compensation, diminished the breadth, depth, and diversity of our stories and ideas, and ultimately impoverished our democracy.”

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In her ruling on Monday, which followed a 13-day trial in August, Judge Florence Y. Pan, who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, agreed, “The Court finds that the United States has shown that the effect of the proposed merger may be substantially to lessen competition in the market for the U.S. publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books,” she wrote in her decision.

In a statement, the WGA West, which often opposes mergers of media companies, said that the “DOJ’s successful case against the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster transaction shows the vital importance of challenging mergers that harm workers and lays a path for more efforts to stop the endless cycle of corporate consolidation.”

Penguin Random House said it will appeal. In a statement, the company asserted, “We strongly disagree with the decision, which is an unfortunate setback for readers and authors, and we will immediately request an expedited appeal. As we demonstrated throughout the trial, the Department of Justice’s focus on advances to the world’s best-paid authors instead of consumers or the intense competitiveness in the publishing sector runs contrary to its mission to ensure fair competition. We believe this merger will be pro-competitive, and we will continue to work closely with Paramount and Simon & Schuster on next steps.”

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