By Cynthia Littleton, Variety
The Biden administration made a statement earlier this month when the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the $2.1 billion sale of Simon & Schuster.
Merrick Garland’s body block of the deal that ViacomCBS struck with Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House sends the message that the White House is paying attention to the pace of consolidation in media and entertainment. If the antitrust division is worried about too much concentration among owners of the oldest of mass media platforms — books — just think how the Attorney General’s watchdogs would view nuptials among two major studios or more big-name broadcast and cable assets.
The sudden chill in the regulatory climate may fan the flames of another significant business trend. There’s a growing crowd of investors and private-equity groups — such as the Argus Capital Corp. SPAC led by former CBS honcho Joe Ianniello — that are waiting to pounce on small pieces of old empires that may be sold or spun off in the near future.