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Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) want the Justice Department to review closely a proposed merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery over concerns it could limit programming and opportunities for Latino creators.

Why it matters: Castro has been leading a campaign to pressure media companies to hire more diverse staff and produce more programming with people of color. Media mergers could make that more challenging.

Details: Castro and Warren wrote a letter Monday, along with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), to express serious concerns over WarnerMedia’s proposed $43 billion merger with Discovery.

  • The joint venture would house WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery's nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses.
  • But the four Democrats say the merger would "lessen competition in the media and entertainment industry."

What they're saying: "Additional consolidation is likely to eliminate competition for these workers and reduce the number of employment opportunities for Hispanic individuals looking to enter the industry," the letter said.

  • "We also respectfully urge the Department to thoroughly examine whether the proposed combination of Discovery and WarnerMedia will reduce the amount of diverse and inclusive media and entertainment content available to consumers."

WarnerMedia and Discovery have not responded to emails from Axios seeking comment.

The intrigue: Warren has questioned previous media mergers over antitrust concerns and fears they would reduce media employees. She questioned the CBS-Viacom and Disney-Fox mergers.

  • Castro didn’t weigh into those mergers and both happened before he started pressing media companies on their lack of Latino representation.
  • “For far too long, Hollywood studios have excluded Latinos from opportunities in the industry, perpetuating dangerous stereotypes and inaccurate portrayals," Castro said in a statement about the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger.
  • "I’m deeply concerned that the proposed merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia will lead to concentrated exclusion, harming consumers and workers — especially Latinos who are already the most underrepresented group."

Don't forget: Only 5% of lead actors in films and 2.9% in all new and returning television and streaming programs were Latino in 2020, according to a recent report by the research nonprofit firm Latino Donor Collaborative.

One fun fact: A 2020 WarnerMedia Equity and Inclusion report found that 11% of its workforce was Hispanic — a number unchanged since 2018. Around 58% of its workforce was white.

Get more news that matters about Latinos in the hemisphere, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sign up for the Axios Latino newsletter.

Go deeper

Ward remap battle could come to ballot near you

Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas, chair of the Latino caucus, during a City Council meeting in 2021. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It's early 2022 and the Black and Latino caucuses are still at odds over the new city ward map with no compromise in sight.

Why it matters: This decennial remap will set the course of Chicago politics for the next decade as a theoretical reflection of the 2020 census figures.

Jan 11, 2022 - Economy & Business

Media experts sound alarm on rise of paywalled content

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It’s a bull market for media companies targeting high-end readers, with Justin Smith and Ben Smith joining the likes of Puck, Air Mail, The Information, Axios, Punchbowl News, and others targeting influential, wealthy individuals with new digital publications.

Why it matters: "In this commercial environment, quality is being supported by paying audiences," said Rodney Benson, chair of NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. "Obviously, long-term, this is going to have tremendously negative civic effects."

Updated 57 mins ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.