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Judge Makes a Ruling in the Disney Antitrust Lawsuit

Judge Makes a Ruling in the Disney Antitrust Lawsuit

The judge presiding over the Class Action Antitrust Lawsuit against Disney has finally made a ruling. Here is the latest on how the suit will move forward.

Credit: Donna

One thing that is certain: big corporations like The Walt Disney Company often find themselves tangled in legal drama. For example, by now, you have surely seen updates on the Federal Lawsuit and State Lawsuit against Ron DeSantis. You have probably also read about the countersuit.

You may have even been following along with news about Disney’s recent Water Park Law Suit or the recent Little Mermaid Lawsuit. But, you may have forgotten about the Antitrust Lawsuit being waged against Disney. We finally have updates for you.

Antitrust Lawsuit Against Disney

Credit: Katie

Now, a US Federal judge has finally made a ruling for the class action lawsuit accusing the media giant of conducting business practices that have hurt competition in the market for live-streaming paid television, and driven up prices. The antitrust lawsuit was filed last fall, and like many legal matters, it has taken a while to hash it all out.

The proposed class action was filed by subscribers of Google’s YouTube TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Stream. The case claims that Disney has violated the Sherman Act. This act prohibits every (unreasonable) contract that causes restraint on trade.

Credit: Susan

The focus is on Hulu. Plaintiffs blame Hulu’s pricing structure for driving price hikes for all providers over the past few years. The suit claims that Disney’s business management practices have resulted in anticompetitive carriage agreements with competitors that have inflated prices for streaming live television.

It puts specific emphasis on the handling of ESPN. Currently, ESPN carries the most expensive affiliate fees in the country. As it stands, providers MUST carry it on their lowest tier of subscribership if they wish to include it in any of their more expensive tiers.

The Judge Makes a Decision

Disney espn+ expansion 10
Photo: ESPN

Judge Edward Davila decided to advance the case but with changes. Disney motioned to dismiss the lawsuit, and part of that motion has been denied, but part has been granted.

The case states, “Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART with leave to amend. The Court DENIES Disney’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claim that Disney violated the Sherman Act § 1 under the rule of reason and GRANTS Disney’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claim that Disney per se violated the Sherman Act § 1 and for damages.”

To put it simply, part of the case can move forward to investigate whether Disney’s practices create barriers preventing new companies from entering the market. However, part of the case cannot move forward.

Credit: Donna

However, the judge is preventing the Plaintiffs from seeking damages in the lawsuit. If the Plaintiffs wish to move forward, they must amend the lawsuit.

They only have until October 16, 2023, to amend and refile. Again, Plaintiffs cannot seek damages in the filing, so we shall see if they find the endeavor to be worthwhile after all.

Do you think the plaintiffs will refile the Antitrust case against Disney now that they cannot seek damages? Do you think Disney is ultimately responsible for driving up live television pricing? Let us know in the comments. As always, feel free to share the news with others, too.

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