DOJ Warns Oscars: Do Not Remove Netflix Movies from Award Eligibility

Overview of Oscar statues on display at 'Meet the Oscars' at the Time Warner Cen
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

The DOJ reportedly sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, warning it against removing movies on streaming services like Netflix from Academy Award eligibility —citing antitrust laws.

The letter, addressed to Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, was obtained by Variety, which published it in full online.

“The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (the ‘Division’) has learned through news reporting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the ‘Academy’) may consider proposed rules changes limiting eligibility for the Academy Awards (the ‘Oscars’). The Division writes to draw your attention to its concerns that may arise if the Academy implements certain restrictions in a way that tends to suppress competition,” declared DOJ Antitrust Division Chief, Makan Delrahim. “In the event that the Academy—an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership—establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns.”

“Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, prohibits anticompetitive agreements among competitors. 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,” Delrahim continued. “If the Academy adopts a new rule to exclude certain types of films, such as films distributed via online streaming services, from eligibility for the Oscars, and that exclusion tends to diminish the excluded films’ sales, that rule could therefore violate Section 1.”

Delrahim concluded, “The Division is committed to enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws on behalf of American consumers, and appreciates your attention to the Division’s concerns as you consider any changes to the eligibility requirements for the Oscars.”

Hollywood director and producer Steven Spielberg has previously expressed his support for excluding movies on streaming services from Academy award eligibility.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” expressed Spielberg last year. “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

Streaming service Netflix, however, has predictably opposed Spielberg on the matter, posting on Twitter last month:

We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:

-Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters
-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art

These things are not mutually exclusive.

Breitbart News will continue to report on developments in potential changes to the Academy Awards.

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter, or like his page at Facebook.


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