×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Justice Department Warns Academy Over Potential Oscar Rule Changes Threatening Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that its potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services for the Oscars could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law.

According to a letter obtained by Variety, the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, wrote to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson on March 21 to express concerns that new rules would be written “in a way that tends to suppress competition.”

“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,” Delrahim wrote.

The letter came in response to reports that Steven Spielberg, an Academy board member, was planning to push for rules changes to Oscars eligibility, restricting movies that debut on Netflix and other streaming services around the same time that they show in theaters. Netflix made a big splash at the Oscars this year, as the movie “Roma” won best director, best foreign language film and best cinematography.

An Academy spokesperson said, “We’ve received a letter from the Dept. of Justice and have responded accordingly. The Academy’s Board of Governors will meet on April 23 for its annual awards rules meeting, where all branches submit possible updates for consideration.”

Delrahim cited Section 1 of the Sherman Act that “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 wrote.

He added, “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.”

Spielberg’s concerns over the eligibility of movies on streaming platforms have triggered intense debate in the industry. Netflix responded on Twitter early last month with the statement, “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.”

Spielberg told ITV News last year that Netflix and other streaming platforms have boosted the quality of television, but “once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. … If it’s a good show—they deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.”

The letter reflects concerns that the Justice Department has been concerned about the ability of traditional media outlets to limit competition from new streaming video entrants, even those that have grown significantly in recent years like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Those concerns were touched upon in the AT&T-Time Warner transaction and later trial, and also were part of a consent decree reached to clear the Comcast-NBC Universal transaction in 2011. The latter included provisions that governed how the company treated online video distributors, but those conditions expired last year.

More Politics

  • Mueller Report Book Editions Top Amazon's

    Mueller Report Book Editions Shoot to Top of Best-Seller Lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

    Robert Mueller is now a best-selling author. Book publishers’ forthcoming editions of the special counsel’s report zoomed to the top of the Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s lists of book best-sellers Friday. That comes a day after the report was publicly released, culminating the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election [...]

  • Pete Buttigieg Show Business Donations

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is Totally Up for Booking Phish for His Inauguration

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign seems to be going Phish-ing… in the best possible sense. (Unless you just hate the band Phish so much there is no best possible sense.) The Democratic presidential candidate has previously indicated his love for the group, and when a reporter suggested Phish play at his theoretical swearing-in festivities in 2021, [...]

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Donald Trump

    HBO Fires Back at Trump's 'Game of Thrones'-Inspired 'No Collusion' Tweet

    HBO is firing back at President Donald Trump after he sent another “Game of Thrones”-inspired tweet in response to the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation. “Though we can understand the enthusiasm for ‘Game of Thrones’ now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer [...]

  • Mueller Report Released: Networks Cut the

    Networks Curb Their Enthusiasm, William Barr Flexes as Mueller Report Goes Public

    The run-up to Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the conduct of President Donald Trump suggested it was just one component part of a busy news day, something close to business as usual. And the broadcast — in which Barr stormily defended the President as [...]

  • Mueller Report: Redacted Version of Trump

    Mueller's Report Details Possible Trump Obstruction but Reaches No Conclusion

    WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation leaves open the question of whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice, making clear that Trump was not exonerated. That was one of many takeaways after a redacted version of the highly anticipated document was released to the public on Thursday, captivating Congress, [...]

  • Attorney General Says Mueller Report Redactions

    Attorney General William Barr Defends Trump, Says Mueller Report Redactions Will Be 'Limited'

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr, in a press conference in advance of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, said that the redactions will be limited. But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Barr also offered what amounted to a defense of President Trump’s conduct as Mueller’s investigation unfolded, in what Democrats and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content