The US antitrust regulators have warned Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that prohibit Netflix and other streaming platforms from the Oscar, may violate federal competition law.
Legendary film maker and multi-Oscar winner Steven Spielberg has supported an attempt to ban films primarily distributed via streaming platforms from the Academy Awards. The effort got steamed after Netflix movie Roma won Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Camera and was nominated for other Academy Awards including Best Picture. Roma appeared in some theaters, but only for a few weeks.
The US Department of Justice's antitrust division learned about anti-streaming suggestions from news reports and decided to warn the academy in a letter before the awards ceremony made a meeting later this month. Spielberg is a member of the Academy's Board of Directors and is supposed to press for a streaming ban at the next meeting.
"In the event that the Academy – an association involving several competitors in its membership – establishes certain support requirements for the Oscar, which eliminates competition without pro-competitive reasons, such behavior may give rise to antitrust problems." DOJ antitrust manager Makan In a March 21, Delrahim wrote to Dawn Hudson, CEO, who was obtained by Variety . 1 of the Sherman Act "prohibits anti-competitive agreements between competitors," DOJ wrote. "Agreements between competitors for the exclusion of new competitors may therefore infringe the antitrust law when their purpose or effect is to prevent competition from goods or services purchased and enjoyed by consumers but threatening the profits of incumbents."
An academic decision to exclude streaming movies can therefore violate US law, the letter said.
"If the Academy adopts a new rule to exclude certain types of movies, such as movies distributed via online streaming services, from being eligible for the Oscar, and that exclusion tends to reduce the sales of excluded films, this rule violate paragraph 1, "wrote DOJ.
The letter concluded by saying that DOJ & # 39; s anti-trust department "appreciates your attention to the department's concerns as you consider any change in eligibility requirements for the Oscar."
If the Academy prohibits streaming films from the Oscar, DOJ could file an antitrust lawsuit against the academy.  Academy meets April 23
The Academy told Variety and other news organizations that it received the letter and "responded accordingly", but it did not say what it was the answer.
"The Academy's Board of Directors will meet on April 23 for its annual award ceremony, where all branches send possible updates for consideration," the academy also said.
Spielberg said in a recent interview that "when you commit to a TV format you are a TV movie. You sure – if it's a good show deserve an Emmy. But not an Oscar."
Netflix indirectly responded to anti-streaming sentiment in a tweet on March 3, saying that streaming provides movie access "for people who cannot always afford or live in cities without theaters," let [s] all, everywhere enjoy publications at the same time "and" give [es] filmmakers more ways to share art. "