Academy warned against Netflix boot

People | 16 Apr 2019

It may already have Oscars under its belt, but Netflix's acceptance by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hangs in the balance.

The prestigious body is set to re-examine whether the streaming giant will remain eligible for such awards, despite a warning from the US Justice Department that it could violate anti-trust laws.

"We've received a letter from the Department of Justice and have responded accordingly," the academy said, confirming reports in Variety magazine.

Film director Steven Spielberg has suggested that Netflix films should not be eligible for Oscars, but instead for Emmy Awards handed to the stars and creators of television shows.

"Once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie," said Spielberg, who is set to work with new streaming platform Apple TV+.

The academy will meet on April 23 for an annual meeting on the rules of the Oscars.

US anti-trust laws exist to regulate businesses to promote fair competition and protect consumers.

Recently, authorities blocked the takeover of media giant Time Warner by telecoms group AT&T on the grounds that it would cut out competition and raises prices for customers.

Fueled by Netflix's haul at this year's Academy Awards, including three statues for Mexican Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, underlying all this is a battle between the world of old cinema and the new world of streaming services.

For C Kerry Fields, a business economics professor, it is surprising the US authorities have sided with streaming.

"It is a titanesque struggle: one that pits old formats against a new one," he said.

"For a lot of young people, it's the right decision but I would have thought they would have sided with the academy."


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