22 House Representatives petition FTC to stop opposing Microsoft’s Activision merger

Robert Collins

Us House Of Representatives Custom

22 Republican lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter calling on the Federal Trade Commission to cease its endeavor to block Microsoft from acquiring gaming giant Activison Blizzard.

The letter was addressed to FTC Chair Lina Khan and commissioners Alvaro Bedoya and Rebecca Slaughter. Among its signatories were Committee of the Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R) and Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer (R).

The letter calls into question not only the Microsoft/Activision case but the FTC’s current leadership generally.

Since 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sharply veered from established
antitrust policy, toward an anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and anti-American policy that
jeopardizes the health of our economy and threatens to increase costs to consumers. 

It is little secret that Khan has made a point of going after big tech in the name of consumer protection. Late last year the FTC filed a lawsuit against Microsoft to block its buyout of Activision Blizzard. In its announcement the FTC cited concerns that Microsoft would withhold Activision games from competitors and thereby “harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

FTC chair Lina Khan in Office

The trial is set to begin with an evidentiary hearing on August 2. Thus far the FTC has been met with little success in court, being defeated in its preliminary injunction against Microsoft and Activision, and again in its appeal of that decision. In light of these developments the U.K. CMA has paused litigation to work out a remedy with Microsoft, and Sony has signed a 10-year binding agreement to keep Call of Duty games on PlayStation.

The letter continues,

The latest, and most egregious, example of the FTC’s rejection of sound antitrust policy was the decision to seek a preliminary injunction against a procompetitive transaction, Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision. As Judge Jacqueline Corley of the Northern District of California found, the FTC failed to demonstrate a likelihood that the transaction “…will
substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets”1 and indeed, the “… evidence points to more consumer access to … Activision content.” We write to express our concerns, and to urge you to drop this matter and refocus the FTC’s resources on work that supports the interests of American consumers.

The FTC is said to be currently “weighing its options.” Meanwhile, Microsoft and Activision have extended their merger deadline by three months to October 18. The acquisition is expected to conclude in the near future.

Featured image via Thought.co.