DOJ Warns Academy About Possible Changes In Oscar Rules Eliminating Netflix Entries From Nominations

Written by on April 11, 2019

Fourth Estate Staff

Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – The US Justice Department has given the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences a warning after the latter made plans to make changes to its rules to limit the eligibility of movies produced by Netflix and other streaming services for Oscar consideration. According to the DOJ, the potential changes could raise a violation of competition law.

DOJ’s Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim wrote a letter to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson to express his concern regarding the policy change, saying it would come off as tending to “suppress competition,” Variety reported.

Delrahim wrote that if the Academy determines certain eligibility requirements that would thereby interfere with fair play and competition “without precompetitive justification,” it could result in antitrust concerns.

Delrahim cited Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which states that anti-competitive agreements among competitors are prohibited under the law.

Accordingly, agreements among competitors to exclude new competitors can violate the antitrust laws when their purpose or effect is to impede competition by goods or services that consumers purchase and enjoy but which threaten the profits of incumbent firms,” he wrote in the letter.

The letter from the DOJ follows an earlier statement made by director Steven Spielberg, who is a board member of the Academy, that original movies produced by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other streaming websites are eligible for Emmy nominations provided that it gains wide theatrical releases that are not simultaneous with their release on the said streaming platforms, The Verge reported.

The buzz about Netflix movies receiving Oscar nods follows the success of Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Roma’, the streaming company’s first ever Oscar Best Picture nominee. The film had a limited theatrical release in the US before it became available for streaming in December.

Meanwhile, the Academy confirmed their receipt of such letter from the DOJ and said that the Academy’s Board of Governors will convene on April 23 to discuss the rules regarding the annual awards..

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