DOJ: streaming services such as Netflix (and Apple TV+) can’t be limited for Oscar eligibility

The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) that its potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services — such as the upcoming Apple TV+ — 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.”

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“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 (and, ironically, a proponent of Apple’s upcoming streaming video service), 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.

Apple TV+ is coming tis fall to over 100 countries. Apple’s original video subscription service will feature a brand new slate of programming from such artists as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. However, pricing and other details have yet to be announced.