Walmart Sends in the Goons

23 Sep ’06

The New York Post reports that Walmart has been threatening the movie studios if they release product to iTunes:

Worried about its massive DVD sales, retail behemoth Wal-Mart has told some of Hollywood’s biggest players it will retaliate against them for selling movies on Apple’s iTunes.

Last year when Disney announced it would begin offering episodes of the hit shows “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” on Apple’s iTunes, the reaction of the world’s largest retailer sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry.

Wal-Mart, worried that offering the shows for viewing on iPods would cut into DVD sales at its stores, sent “cases and cases” of DVDs back to Disney, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But several weeks ago, in the midst of rumors that Apple was close to announcing a deal with Disney, Wal-Mart’s David Porter – the executive responsible for stocking the retailer’s shelves with DVDs and CDs and whose influence is so immense in Tinseltown that he’s been named to Premiere magazine’s annual power list – made the rounds of Hollywood studios.

His message, according to a studio exec involved in the discussions: that there would be “serious ramifications” if the studios hopped in bed with Apple.

“They threatened to hurt us in terms of buying less products,” said this person.

Spitzer is distracted now with the NY gubernatorial election, but I have to think that plugging into the anti-Walmart angst that’s been accumulating in the zeitgeist for years now would be a very good thing for him. He has, of course, demonstrated a willingness to investigate in order to keep the digital media market open and competitive. If not Spitzer, perhaps someone else, but I think they’re all working on the HP file.

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