Justice Department warns Oscar group against blocking streaming services like Apple TV+

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In an unusual intervention, the U.S. Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it could run into antitrust laws if it excludes streaming services like Apple TV+ and Netflix from the Oscars.

Oscars


"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," wrote DoJ antitrust head Makan Delrahim in a letter seen by Variety. The Academy acknowledged receiving a letter and responding, and said that its Board of Governors will receive submissions at an annual rules meeting on Apr. 23.

Delrahim's letter came in reaction to reports that director Steven Spielberg, an Academy board member, was aiming for rules limiting the eligibility of movies that debut on streaming services the same time as they arrive in theaters. A Netflix movie that adopted this strategy, Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," took home Oscars for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film.

Spielberg and some other famous directors, like David Lynch, have sometimes vocally promoted theaters as the true home for movies, whether because of their immersive presentation or the social aspect. In 2018 Spielberg told ITV News that while streaming services have raised the quality of TV, "once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie... If it's a good show -- deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar."

The director's position is notable in that Spielberg appeared on stage at the Apple TV+ announcement, touting his reboot of the anthology series "Amazing Stories." While most of Apple's content is expected to adopt a TV format, some movies will be included as well, a few of which could theoretically be up for Oscars.

In fact Apple is reportedly assembling a team to put content in front of both Emmy and Oscar voters. Though fans and critics sometimes debate the legitimacy of those awards, they're nevertheless a mark of prestige -- particularly for streaming services needing to convince people to subscribe.

That could be even more crucial for Apple, which isn't expected to have much if any third-party content, though that could change by the time Apple TV+ launches this fall.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    Truly a first world issue. The government stepping in over concern about an awards show for the entertainment industry. Wow.


    jbdragonthtentropys
  • Reply 2 of 19
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,092member
    That’s good. I want some of the Apple shows to get an Oscar.
  • Reply 3 of 19
    designr said:
    Truly a first world issue. The government stepping in over concern about an awards show for the entertainment industry. Wow.


    It's yet another excuse to inject the government's influence where it doesn't belong.

    I'm no lawyer by any means, but a lawyer acquaintance of mine who's represented quite a few companies in alleged Sherman violations, claims that the Sherman Anti-Trust act is worded such that the government can object to just about any business practice that it wants to.  And define as "business practice" many things that most people would scratch their heads at.
    designrshaminoentropyswilliamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 19
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    designr said:
    Truly a first world issue. The government stepping in over concern about an awards show for the entertainment industry. Wow.


    I'm no lawyer by any means, but a lawyer acquaintance of mine who's represented quite a few companies in alleged Sherman violations, claims that the Sherman Anti-Trust act is worded such that the government can object to just about any business practice that it wants to.  And define as "business practice" many things that most people would scratch their heads at.
    That should surprise absolutely no one. It's a bit like how they use the Interstate Commerce Clause for almost an imaginable reason no matter how tenuously related to interstate commerce.
    jbdragonshamino
  • Reply 5 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,065member
    There’s no doubt that the government does need to police the economy to prevent abuse. President Theodore Roosevelt used the Sherman Act to break up abusive monopolies. But the down side is that the government keeps grabbing more and more power over the economy to the point of doing damage itself. 
    designrjbdragonentropys
  • Reply 6 of 19
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    lkrupp said:
    There’s no doubt that the government does need to police the economy to prevent abuse. President Theodore Roosevelt used the Sherman Act to break up abusive monopolies. But the down side is that the government keeps grabbing more and more power over the economy to the point of doing damage itself. 
    Yeah. Relatedly, inferior/weaker/less successful competitors often use things like the anti-trust laws (among other laws), proxied through the government, as a cudgel against their more successful competitors when it may not really have anything to do with true monopoly abuse.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 7 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,585member
    That’s good. I want some of the Apple shows to get an Oscar.
    Heck, I hope they all get Oscars. All of 'em.

    EDIT: My grandson's baseball team members all got trophies, seems the fair way to do things now according to whoever. 
    edited April 3
  • Reply 8 of 19
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 738member
    That’s good. I want some of the Apple shows to get an Oscar.
    Can shows win Oscars?
  • Reply 9 of 19
    shaminoshamino Posts: 412member
    Total government overreach.

    Why should the government have any say at all over what kinds awards a private industry organization wants to give to itself?

    Are they now going to tell the local pre-school that they can't give gold stars to kids because kids from other schools can't also get them?
    dkhaley
  • Reply 10 of 19
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 336member
    jcs2305 said:

    Can shows win Oscars?
    TV shows, no.

    Netflix (and Apple presumably) are arguing that their productions are films.

    The distinction may have to do with advertising. It's all arcane to me!
  • Reply 11 of 19
    ZooNetZooNet Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    Everyone should get an Oscar... it’s not fair -
    lkruppentropys
  • Reply 12 of 19
    nhtnht Posts: 4,437member
    jcs2305 said:
    That’s good. I want some of the Apple shows to get an Oscar.
    Can shows win Oscars?
    No and that's Spielberg's argument...they are "TV movies" and should get an Emmy...but Netflix will take one and stick it in a couple theaters for a very limited run...so they kind of use a loophole intended for small indies to qualify for Oscars.

    Probably what should happen, federal meddling aside, is to use the inverse of the Emmy rule for eligibility for eligibility for an Oscar:  70 theatrical play dates...number of days in theater x number of theaters.  70 or under = Emmy.  71+ you get an Oscar.
    edited April 3
  • Reply 13 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,065member
    ZooNet said:
    Everyone should get an Oscar... it’s not fair -
    Thank you, Ms. Warren!
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 14 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,585member
    lkrupp said:
    ZooNet said:
    Everyone should get an Oscar... it’s not fair -
    Thank you, Ms. Warren!
    :)
  • Reply 15 of 19
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,687member
    Nonsense. A private group can have eligibility rules. Release your movie in a theatre if you want an Oscar, otherwise it’s for TV and eligible for an Emmy. 
    ZooNet
  • Reply 16 of 19
    [Moderators: Something appears broken on the site: When attempting to comment via an iPad, the keyboard never appears. I had to switch to an iPhone. Both are running the latest version of iOS 12.]

    I'm an Academy member.

    1. No one is being "excluded." The proposed rule change is about fairness. Netflix and services that are primarily about streaming have an unfair advantage over traditional film studios because the streamed films are potentially seen early by millions of viewers in their homes, whereas traditional studios' films are first shown in theaters before eventually streaming later. (In fact to be eligible for an Oscar, a film must be shown in a commercial theater for at least one week.)

    The proposed change would simply require that Netflix, et al, show their films in theaters only (at first), just like other movie studios. It merely evens the playing field. 

    2. The Justice Department has literally NO jurisdiction here, and they know it (which is why this letter was leaked, instead of published by the government, which is the norm).

    Justice Department officials are reportedly mortified that they've been required to stoop to such petty nonsense. This laughable "warning" was clearly requested by the president, who has on numerous occasions attempted to "stick it" to companies or organizations with whom he has a personal grudge. 
    AppleExposedbeowulfschmidtAndy.Hardwake
  • Reply 17 of 19
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,705member
    Definitely regulatory overreach. The real problem is too many lawyers infesting government. It is an example of the old saw that if you only had a hammer, every problem is a nail. Regulators gotta regulate. Until the government becomes a boot grinding on your face. Forever.

    That said, who gives a shit about the Academy and the oscars anyway? Maybe it once meant something It’s like a royal celebration of overindulgement, but with no taste.

  • Reply 18 of 19
    mknelson said:
    jcs2305 said:

    Can shows win Oscars?
    TV shows, no.

    Netflix (and Apple presumably) are arguing that their productions are films.

    The distinction may have to do with advertising. It's all arcane to me!
    2 to 3 hrs video experiences can win Oscars. Maybe 4 hrs. But 5, forget it. Ya know what, I think the Oscars should be forced to say exactly how long your "movie" can be before it becomes a "show." Parse it down to the millisecond. Because such things are just as important as worrying where a "movie" gets viewed by some people (but of course not by all people - how many movies are viewed solely in theaters? only really unsuccessful ones, I'd say).
  • Reply 19 of 19
    SCENE: Streaming from an Apple TV+ service.

    Oprah: "YOU get an Oscar, and YOU get an Oscar, and YOU get an Oscar..."

    beowulfschmidt
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