Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan joined Ankler Media CEO Janice Min and Editorial Director Richard Rushfield on Aug. 14 for a revealing conversation about the agency’s views on the various crises roiling entertainment. On a Zoom from Washington D.C., President Biden’s legal superstar, 34, talked about her involvement with the Writers Guild of America (even joining a picket outside the The View studio in New York City), the “red flags” she sees in showbiz that suggest the market “is not actually serving the creators or the ultimate viewers,” and how markets — through legal framework — can incentivize a race to the top… or bottom (a.k.a, a “doom loop”).
In regards to Hollywood, she says bluntly, “By some basic metrics, there seems to be something that's broken in the market.”
And what about the continued M&A future of Hollywood many foresee? Last month, the FTC and Department of Justice issued new draft guidelines that reflect changes in the market. The 13 points encompass tenets including: a deal should not extend a dominant position, adversely impact workers or lessen competition. (To comment on the draft, please visit here before Sept. 18). For a functional market, Khan says, “You need rules of the game, and antitrust is really about those rules.”
Khan also discusses A.I., her thoughts about private equity’s purchase of Paramount Global’s Simon & Schuster after the DOJ blocked its merger with Penguin Random House, and the FTC’s appeal of the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal. As well as her favorite TV series (hint: good going, Issa Rae).
It’s not all doom and gloom. As Khan says about the entertainment industry, “The culture that it represents and the vehicle that entertainment is for people's ideas is just such a vital part of the vibrancy of ideas in America's marketplaces. And so protecting these markets where people are able to share their ideas, share their stories… it's so essential to what really makes us human.”
You can listen to the podcast above (35 minutes), or read the full transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.
Lina Khan Q&A
Janice Min: Hi, welcome to The Ankler Podcast. I'm Janice Min, joined today by my co-host Richard Rushfield. And today, we are so thrilled to have Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission join us. A quick introduction, Chair Khan first gained attention as a Yale Law School student for a paper she wrote, “Amazon's Antitrust Paradox”, which went about as viral as an academic paper can go. It garnered attention at the highest levels of government and the media. And in the paper, she wrote that Amazon had amassed so much power that it was actually controlling parts of the economy in such a way where small businesses and retailers had become dependent on their biggest competitor even to survive.
She called for a reexamination of the traditional ways antitrust regulation has been used. Traditionally, it focused on the consumer in terms of pricing and fraud. Fast forward to 2021, and President Joe Biden appointed the then 32-year-old to be chair of the FTC. She's also an associate professor of law at Columbia. Since then, she [has overseen] the agency's attempt to block Microsoft's $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and fought to block Meta from buying the VR startup, Within. And last month, the FTC and DOJ released guidelines for what companies will be required to consider in future mergers. One of the 13 points is for companies to consider the impact of proposed transactions on labor, which brings us to the world of entertainment.
Welcome, Chair Khan.
Lina Khan: Thanks so much for having me.
JM: Thanks for being here. So I have to start with a pretty basic question here. Los Angeles is about 2,700 miles from Washington D.C. but the entertainment business has caught the eye of the FTC. You even recently joined a picket in July with the WGA outside of The View. Can you explain what's happening here? How did this all come to be?
LK: So at the Federal Trade Commission, Congress has charged us with preventing unfair methods of competition and promoting fair methods of competition. And so we oversee huge swaths of the U.S. economy markets, ranging from healthcare to grocery. As part of our job, I'm always really keen to be hearing from people on the ground about how have markets changed, what are the ways in which markets may no longer be serving both the producers and creators that are trying to access customers, as well as the end customers. And increasingly in the U.S., we see markets that are not serving the best interests of producers or consumers. So look at the food supply chain where you have consumers paying more, even as farmers are seeing a smaller and smaller share, or healthcare where we hear from doctors who are frustrated that they can't provide quality care, to patients or independent pharmacists that are going out of business even as local communities tend to prefer them over the big pharma chains.
And so when you have these types of situations where producers are making something that consumers value and consumers want, but the market is not set up to allow them to succeed when you have somebody with a good idea and a viable business built around that good idea, but the market is not rewarding that good idea, it suggests that something is broken in the market and that there may be a competition problem.
So as we've been following what's happening in Hollywood and the strike, which I understand is now more than 100 days and going strong, we wanted to make sure we were hearing from people on the ground to see if there are any competition issues that may be affecting the situation.
JM: And what did you find?
LK: Well, we heard a lot. And [the] WGA in particular has been very active in sharing thoughts with the FTC. They submitted a comment to us as we were reviewing our merger guidelines and they shared a whole set of ways in which the market structure has dramatically changed over recent decades where we've seen both significant concentration both among studios as well as chains, as well as vertical integration. And the combination of this consolidation and vertical integration seems to have created a market structure where we hear about how writers and producers and showrunners are all making less, even as companies are charging customers more. And critics seem to say that the quality of content being produced is actually in decline. So increasingly we see some of the red flags that suggest the market structure is not actually serving the creators or the ultimate viewers.
The advent of streaming seems to have broken key signals in the market where before you used to have this feedback loop between publicly accountable metrics of what content was actually doing well and that then led to who was getting to be paid on an ongoing basis, be it through residuals or other things. - Khan
JM: Chair Khan, can you explain for our audience who hear the term vertical integration thrown around a lot. But what does that mean exactly?
LK: Yeah. It's a great question. So vertical integration basically means when you have different parts of a supply chain that are actually rolled up in one company. And this is not a new issue. In fact, back in the '30s and '40s, writers and producers were really frustrated because vertical integration meant that the studios had merged with the distributors. So you had both production of content and distribution of content housed in a single company. Critics and people in the industry at that time argued that that type of combination of production and distribution created perverse conflicts of interest where the distributors were incentivized not to necessarily promote the content that customers and viewers best liked, but in fact they were privileging the content that was owned by the parent company.
So those types of conflicts of interests can basically end up undermining a market where you really want to be promoting the best ideas and giving access to viewers and customers of the best content. That big fight ended up resulting in what were known as the Paramount Consent Decrees. So this was a 1948 order by the government that required the breakup of the studios and distributors. We saw something similar known as the financial interest and syndication rules. So this was applying a similar breakup in the context of the television industry.
And basically what this did was help create a much more open market. So through mid-century, we had thousands and thousands of independent movie theaters. We had multiple major studios. And so if you were a producer or a writer and you had a good idea and you wanted to sell it, you had lots of different viable paths to market. Overall, we think that created a healthier ecosystem than a situation where you have a handful of gatekeepers. So the only path to market is increasingly through one or a very small number of companies.
Richard Rushfield: So speaking to the consumers today. We talk about the producers and the creators and the problems they have, but if they look at the market right now, they would say, "Well, there's eight different services. I have more stuff back up to my queue than I can ever begin to watch. I can unsubscribe to three of them and subscribe to two more." So how is my choice currently being limited or the selection of what I get being curtailed?
LK: Look, I don't profess to be a cultural critic or commentator, but just some of the commentary that I've read that really goes into breaking down some of the numbers of the types of movies and the types of content that ends up doing well, it ends up looking to be a handful of blockbusters such that even some of the movies that are up for major awards are not the ones that are doing well. And so by some basic metrics, there seems to be something that's broken in the market. Again, this is just something that we hear from market participants.
I think the other thing that we've heard and seen is that the advent of streaming seems to have broken key signals in the market where before you used to have this feedback loop between publicly accountable metrics of what content was actually doing well and that then led to who was getting to be paid on an ongoing basis, be it through residuals or other things. But as you've seen firms make that data unavailable, I think we are seeing complaints about that feedback loop being broken.
So what firms are investing in or what producers are even incentivized to invest in is not necessarily what is doing the best with customers. But I think big picture there seems to just be more of a black box that we're hearing about where it's not even really visible what's going on. And again, I think for us as the FTC, what's really notable is just how many analogs and parallels there are between what's happening in this industry and what we see across all sorts of other industries where again, we've seen consolidation, vertical integration, and the rise of dominant middlemen, intermediaries and gatekeepers that sometimes are not always serving the best interests of the customers or the producers that they're connecting.
Through [the] mid-century, we had thousands and thousands of independent movie theaters. We had multiple major studios. And so if you were a producer or a writer and you had a good idea and you wanted to sell it, you had lots of different viable paths to market. Overall we think that created a healthier ecosystem than a situation where you have a handful of gatekeepers. - Khan
JM: Well, we write a lot and talk a lot at The Ankler about this general unease that people have about the relationship with tech companies and how it's changed, as you've noted, several industries across the board. I thought this quote was great representative. I know he is retired, but Representative David Cicilline. Am I pronouncing that right?
LK: Cicilline [ed note: Sss-iciline].
JM: Cicilline, excuse me, of Rhode Island, and he was the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law. He gave this comment, which I thought would really resonate with people. "The whole country has been struggling to understand why the economy is not operating in the right way. Wages have remained stagnant. Workers have less and less power. All we're trying to do is create a level playing field, and that's harder when you have mega companies." But I'm going to throw out the counterargument that people make, which is this is anti-capitalism. You're trying to regulate business. What would be your response to that?
LK: So antitrust and competition laws are entirely pro capitalism, right? We really want markets that are rewarding good ideas. And so if you're an entrepreneur and you have a good idea, you're able to go attract financing for that idea. You want to have a marketplace where you can compete on the merits and where the businesses that are doing well are the ones that are providing the products or services that customers want at high quality and low price.
So this competition policy, and antitrust, is really about creating and facilitating the market structures that are going to be rewarding that type of good idea and where companies can succeed on the merits. In order for that to happen though, you need rules of the game, and antitrust is really about those rules of the game. We have merger laws that are designed to prevent mergers that may substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly. The idea being that if you allow a market to be controlled by one entity, the type of price signals and other signals that reward what customers actually want get broken, and that those monopolies are then able to jack up price and degrade quality in ways that is anti-capitalism. So antitrust and competition policy is precisely about the rules of the game that are going to allow those markets and free enterprise to really flourish.
JM: It's worth pointing out that you have bipartisan support on many of your initiatives. Is that correct?
LK: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, concerns about monopolies go back to the American founding in many ways, right? I mean, the American Revolution was a protest against undue privilege and a deep concern about concentrated power. And there was a recognition that in order for a Democratic state to be viable and thriving, we needed to ensure not just checks and balances in our political sphere, in our system of governance, but also checks and balances in our commercial sphere and our economic sphere. And that's what the antitrust and anti-monopoly laws were fundamentally about. They were about checking the types of dangerous concentrations of economic power that can make democratic liberty impossible. And so that's really the history and tradition of these laws, and I think we see a lot of bipartisan concern about growing concentration in our economy, about growing monopolies.
I've had the chance to testify before Congress a whole bunch of times in the last few months, and I would hear concerns from both Democratic and Republican members. I would hear from members about how monopolies are hollowing out rural America, about how monopolies are making it very difficult for consumers and patients to be able to afford lifesaving medicine about how consolidation is making it harder for workers to earn a fair and living wage. So I think we've definitely heard about concerns from all sides.
RR: So you say you've seen in other industries that the tech industry has gone into. You've seen the similar trends play out as we're seeing here. Can you give us a sense of where does this go a few more steps down the road if it continues unchecked? How does this impact what we see and what our industry looks like, if we can keep going?
LK: I would say big picture, a couple of things. One of the trends that we've seen that contributes to some of these parallel situation in other markets is not really just new technology, but it's the legal framework against which these new technologies arrive. So one of the big changes in antitrust law over the last few decades was that starting in the '70s and '80s enforcers and policymakers decided to take a much more hands-off approach. They decided that monopolies and consolidation could deliver a lot more efficiencies and that more often than not, it was best to just stand back and get out of the way.
What that policy choice did was unleash decades of consolidation of huge merger and acquisition waves, which affected the entertainment industry, but all sorts of other industries. So a lot of the issues that we hear about from markets ranging from healthcare to grocery, to airlines, to online ticketing is happening against the backdrop of these massive changes in the structure of the market.
The role of technology is really interesting because, again, technology enters a market against a backdrop of legal rules that are determining how that technology is going to affect existing markets. So whether a technology — be it streaming or be it artificial intelligence — ends up boosting the market where it's enabling producers to make what customers want and to be able to invest in the long-term viability and health of the industry, or whether these technologies instead give outsized power to middlemen and intermediaries who can then use those new tools as leverage over producers to weaken their bargaining power and ultimately degrade the industry over the long-term.
Which of those paths and which of any other multiple paths we go down is the result of policy and legal choices. It's not some type of inevitability. So because we've seen a set of policy choices around antitrust, around competition policy, I think that predominantly explains why we've seen some of these trends across sectors. Similarly, as we look at artificial intelligence tools potentially becoming much more widely adopted, I think it's incredibly important for us to keep in mind that legal and policy choices are again going to determine what these technologies ultimately do in terms of having an effect on people. It's not some type of inevitability.
The combination of consolidation and vertical integration seems to have created a market structure where we hear about how writers and producers and showrunners are all making less, even as companies are charging customers more. And critics seem to say that the quality of content being produced is actually in decline. - Khan
JM: I'm curious, your take. There's been a change in the entertainment industry over the last, I would say decade, maybe even the last five years, where Wall Street used to not be this prevailing master over the business. And it suddenly became an industry where it wasn't enough to own a studio or an entertainment company. You were always thinking about your exit, your next financial play out of the current market where you were, and that typically involved M&A.
So we've had in the past 10, 13 years, Comcast bought NBC Universal, Disney acquired Fox, Amazon bought MGM, CAA bought ICM, and Warner Bros. has been owned by just about everyone. Under today's FTC, what would've happened in entertainment?
LK: Look, we as enforcers always have to consider the specific facts of any merger and look at it very closely based on the facts. So it's hard to say generally, but I think we at the FTC are in a moment of learning and reflecting based on what we've seen over the last couple of decades. I mentioned we've been in the process of revising our merger guidelines, which sounds like a pretty technical document, but it's basically our enforcement manual to help us and to help the market determine what are the types of mergers that the FTC and the antitrust division are likely to view as legally problematic. And we lay out the different ways that a merger can violate the law.
One trend that we've seen since the 1980s was a view that vertical integration or this combination of different functions in a single company was generally benign. So we'd generally seen a more hands-off approach to vertical mergers. We make very clear in this document that those types of vertical deals are going to get scrutiny, and we've seen both lawsuits from the FTC and the DOJ looking to challenge some of these vertical deals. We haven't always been successful in the course, and so we look closely at some of those results and figure out how can we be more successful going forward.
But this is also an issue that Congress seems to be very concerned about, and if lawmakers ultimately decide that they need to even further strengthen the laws against even illegal vertical mergers, that'll definitely be very welcome.
RR: How much do you think a perception of the role of the tech companies in the economy has changed? I mean, it seems like it's gone from this utopian dream of they're going to give us a perfect world where you could have everything you want touch your fingers to now sort of a hopelessness that it's too big and it can't be stopped at this point? How do you see that from where you sit?
LK: I mean, I think we've certainly seen a shift in public opinion based on polls and surveys where they does seem to be more a skepticism and suspicion of some of these firms as well as a sense of disillusionment. And I think partly that stems from people's experiences, consumers and customers where sometimes they've realized they don't have many choices. So if a company overnight decides to change its privacy policies where they say, "Actually, we're going to collect all of this information about you all over the internet and use it to send you targeted advertisements."
Or if they make other changes to privacy or security, the people often feel they can't actually in practice vote with their feet, right? We're now increasingly living in an economy where people are dependent on some of these technologies and services to navigate day-to-day life, but oftentimes they find that they don't have choice such that if they don't like the services or the terms in which they're getting these services, they can't really walk away.
I think we've also seen, and we at the FTC here, concerns from producers and creators and the companies that are actually being connected to customers through these platforms. So be it retailers, be it publishers, be it other types of apps, we increasingly hear that some of these markets are not really conducive to the producers and creators accessing customers on fair terms. They're not able to get a price for their services that's reflective of the investments that they're making. So I think we at the FTC hear concerns both from the customer-consumer side as well as from the producer-creator side. And so it's certainly something that we continue to hear concerns about and determine how we can be best acting in this area.
JM: I wanted to just flag this quote that Adam Conover, a writer and WGA board member, let's see, he said in April 2022 that when AT&T acquired Time Warner, let's see, that his show got killed, that there were budget cuts and his show got killed. If I'm not mistaken, I think when Disney acquired Fox that was essentially the beginning of the end for backend payments to creators. And I think you might be familiar with an essay, Alena Smith, the creator of Dickinson, wrote for us titled “Death Spiral of Hollywood Monopolies.”
And in it she stated really clearly, "This does not work. This system we have doesn't work for creators. It doesn't work for executives. It doesn't work for anybody in the business." Yet this inevitability of consolidation keeps going. And I just wanted to read you Paramount Global CEO, Bob Bakish recently said, "Consolidation has been the rule in business for a long time, certainly in media. So it's hard for me to bet on anything other than consolidation will happen in the future." And then Jason Kilar, the former CEO of Warner Media wrote in the Wall Street Journal, two or three major mergers and acquisitions involving entertainment companies is coming in the next 24 months as cashflow challenges deepen. How do you speak to that inevitability? Is it inevitable and are the things you're putting in motion now not going to stop things in the near term?
LK: Look, I can very much appreciate why there can be a sense of resignation and inevitability, but the very reason that Congress passed the antitrust laws was to ensure that lawmakers and policymakers are actually the ones who are in the driver's seat about determining whether our markets are monopolized or whether they're open and competitive and serving both producers and consumers alike. So we have tools where we can address this problem. We can't do it unilaterally in order to bring lawsuits. We have to file them in court and ultimately courts make determinations about whether a merger can go through or whether the agency can be successful in blocking it.
But I absolutely think continued public scrutiny on this is vital, and for the antitrust agencies to continue hearing from people across the board is absolutely critical. We got over 5,000 comments as part of our revision of the merger guidelines, including writers, actors, the Directors Guild of America, and it's really vital that we hear directly from the people in these markets so that we don't have blind spots and are not just going off of an incomplete picture of how a merger is going to affect an industry in a market.
One of the big changes in antitrust law… starting in the '70s and '80s, enforcers and policymakers decided to take a much more hands-off approach. They decided that monopolies and consolidation could deliver a lot more efficiencies and that more often than not, it was best to just stand back and get out of the way. What that policy choice did was unleash decades of consolidation of huge merger and acquisition waves, which affected the entertainment industry. - Khan
RR: It's something we get a lot here from the rest of the world looking at Hollywood. Why should anybody care about Hollywood? Why should anybody who doesn't work here for a living, they tend to look at our strikes, our unrest and say, "Oh, you're a bunch of spoiled actors and writers. If Hollywood fell into the ocean, we'd watch YouTube shorts and we'd be just fine." What do you say to that? Why does Hollywood matter?
LK: Well, look, it's such an important part of American life and American history. The culture that it represents and the vehicle that entertainment is for people's ideas is just such a vital part of the vibrancy of ideas in America's marketplaces. And so protecting these markets where people are able to share their ideas, share their stories, I mean, it's so essential to what really makes us human is being able to share these stories. And so to have a market that's facilitating that is absolutely vital.
JM: I wanted to raise something that was just in the news in the last few weeks that Simon & Schuster sold to KKR, which is the private equity firm, this behemoth that was known as being so ruthless that it was the subject of a book entitled Barbarians at the Gate. And Simon & Schuster's merger with Penguin Random House, Bertelsmann that was blocked, I believe, by the Department of Justice. It's sold to KKR for less money. Is this a better outcome? I mean, what are the outcomes going to be now if you're blocked at the federal level and then selling off for parts to private equity?
LK: It's such an important question, and we need to absolutely make sure that the antitrust laws and antitrust enforcement are not creating outcomes where you may have a merger between competitors that is blocked, but then an acquisition by a firm that may in the long-term still be undermining the competitive viability of those assets that that's allowed. We at the FTC are business model agnostic, but we certainly want to be attuned to the business incentives that different business models can create.
You can have a whole set of different private equity firms that are prioritizing different business strategies. But there is one model of private equity that's focused on kind of the strip and flip model. So you buy an asset, you load it up with debt, you extract value and sell it off, and that can be at odds with promoting the long-term viability and value of the asset and can be undermining competition in the long-term.
So that's something that is antitrust enforcers, we have to be attuned to those market realities. Ultimately, we have to apply the existing law to the relevant facts on a case-by-case basis, but we certainly also have to be aware of just the realities of how businesses are making these decisions.
RR: One thing, I know you speak to a lot of our corporate leaders here, the studio heads and the like. And for me, one of the mysteries has been the drift of the streaming wars has been very bad for the legacy studios that they've almost all done pretty badly at this time. How do the people in charge, without talking about any specifics, how do they feel about this? Are they upset about where things are going? Are they trying to resist it or do they feel just as helpless as the rest of us to just drift along with the flow of this?
LK: I think overall, you can always see how markets can either be structured to incentivize a race to the top or be structured to incentivize a race to the bottom. So sometimes when you see markets that have entered a bit of a doom loop where everybody is doing a race to the bottom, that can be bad for everybody. I think the role of policy and of legal rules is to actually try to incentivize that race to the top because again, you want companies and you want producers that are able to be in a market where they're producing something that customers value at high quality and a good price, and that's ultimately the type of competition that we want to be promoting.
When you have a market where I think, Janice, as you said earlier, everybody seems to be losing, there seems to be something deeply broken in those types of instances, and that's where I think policymakers have to be aware and be able to act.
When you have a market where I think… everybody seems to be losing, there seems to be something deeply broken… and that's where I think policymakers have to be aware and be able to act. - Khan
JM: Oh my God, the doom loop. I love that. It's very apt for these times. Which brings me to my question. So these strikes, there was good movement in recent days where it looks like there's sides are talking again and their counter proposals are going to be put forth by the WGA. So after these strikes are resolved, the larger issues remain however. Am I right?
LM: Yeah. I mean, look, I don't want to prejudge anything what it is or isn't achieved through these contractual negotiations. But based on what we're hearing from writers, from actors, from others, it seems to be that some of these issues are stemming from market structure questions. And so unless those market structure questions are addressed, it seems like potentially some of these power imbalances will persist.
JM: So what happens now? We're about to enter, God forbid, a presidential election season. I know Biden, he appointed you. He is a big believer in your agenda. What happens to our corporate life if Biden does not get a second term? What happens to your agenda?
LK: Look, we at the FTC are on the front lines of protecting Americans from unlawful business practices across sectors of the economy, and we're really proud of the work we've already been able to do, but there's a lot more work to be done. At the end of the day, I think one of the biggest changes that we've seen over the last few years is that antitrust has gone from being a arcane, esoteric, technocratic area to something that more and more people recognize is actually critical to shaping their day-to-day lives.
I think the more and more we see people recognize antitrust and competition policy as not just this arcane field, but actually something that determines whether writers and producers and directors can be accessing a market that's working for them and working for viewers, or whether that market is instead, one that's not working for anybody. The more we recognize those as questions of policy, including antitrust and competition policy, I think that change in awareness can have a lasting impact no matter who ends up being in these positions going forward.
The idea being that if you allow a market to be controlled by one entity, the type of price signals and other signals that reward what customers actually want get broken, and monopolies are then able to jack up price and degrade quality in ways that is anti-capitalism. - Khan
RR: So when you look at the potential mergers that we talked about, and it's a parlor game in Hollywood to say, "This company will buy this company," and try to play it through, I know you can't speak to individual circumstances, but how do you look at how you would respond to these combinations and what are the instruments available to you? Your predecessor tried to stop the Warner-Discovery merger and that was unsuccessful in the end. So what can you do? How do you look at those and what can you do about it ultimately?
JM: I think what Richard is really asking is how would you feel about Apple buying Disney or NBC Universal buying Warner Bros.? We know you can't speak to specific companies, but that's what he's really saying.
LK: Yeah. And I'll say big picture, the FTC shares jurisdiction with the antitrust division, and so we kind of split, divide and conquer by sectors, and some of these industries are in their wheelhouse. When we get a merger and we think there might be legal problems, the first thing we do is dig deeper. We try to hear from a whole set of perspectives in the market. And especially when you have consolidated markets or highly concentrated markets, we want to be especially vigilant because that's where Congress wanted to, in particular, arrest monopolies in their incipiency.
In the proposed merger guidelines that we recently published, we lay out some of the factors that we consider, Janice, you mentioned that we also specifically mention how mergers can reduce competition in ways that hurt workers and labor. In the draft guidelines, we lay out some of the types of factors that we're going to be looking at. For example, whether a merger could allow a company to dock wages or freeze payments to workers, whether a merger would allow a firm to cut benefits or make schedules less predictable, right? There are all these dimensions of competition that affect workers differently than they affect consumers, and we want to make sure that we're fully aware of that.
We also know that getting a job is different from buying a toaster, right? If you are looking to switch jobs, it can just be much more costly. There can be much more search frictions, and so we need to take that part of the market very seriously. So that's a lens that we're going to be applying as well. I'll be remiss if I didn't note that the proposed merger guidelines are currently a draft. We put them out for public comment and we're going to be collecting public comment till September 18th.
So if anybody out there is interested in how the FTC and DOJ police mergers and enforce the antitrust laws in the context of mergers, we want to hear from you. Please send us comments. We really need to be hearing from people on the ground about how consolidation has affected them and how our potential guidelines could address that.
JM: Before we go, I think we have two more questions. The first one I wanted to ask was, I believe you've been asked about this, but I think our audience would be interested, how are you processing the ruling in favor of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard coming together?
LK: Yeah. So that's still pending, so I can't say too much about it. We're always disappointed when things don't go our way in court, but that matter is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, so we're charging forward with that one.
JM: Okay. And then the last one, and we'll see if you and Richard have a mind meld on this easy one, or maybe it's a hard one. What is your favorite TV show and film?
LK: Oh man, that's a hard one. I would say my favorite TV show over the last few years is probably Insecure.
LK: And favorite movie? Gosh, I don't know about a favorite, but I recently rewatched Fargo and loved it.
RR: Do you see movies in the theaters?
LK: I just had a baby a few months ago. He's six months old, so I haven't gotten out too much.
LK: But my husband is also a big movie buff, so we do try to get out when we can.
JM: And no Barbie yet?
LK: No. I'm again hoping when my brother is able to come babysit, I'll be able to go see it.
JM: You are the ultimate Barbie woman. I think you will love it. All right. Lina Khan, we are so grateful to have you join us and give your insights on the state of entertainment. Thank you very much.
RR: Thank you so much.
LK: Thank you.