The brewing conflict between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and streaming services like Netflix, which features the likes of Apple promoter Steven Spielberg, took a wild turn on Tuesday when the Department of Justice got involved. According to Variety, the DOJ has issued a warning to the Academy regarding a potential rule change that would limit (or outright deny) the involvement of streamers like Netflix. Why? Because it “could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law.”
In a letter addressed to Academy CEO Dawn Hudson obtained by Variety, Makan Delrahim, the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, explained the issue:
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.
Citing the Sherman Act of 1890, Delrahim added that the current law “prohibits anticompetitive agreements among competitors,” including the Academy’s proposed rule changes under its current Board of Governors. In a statement commenting on the letter, an Academy spokesperson acknowledged its receipt and said that the board would address it during their next meeting on April 23rd. So until the results of that gathering are released (or leaked) to the public, it will be difficult to decipher what the DOJ, the Academy or Netflix’s next steps are.