The Justice Department is now involved in the Hollywood dispute over the Oscars eligibility of movies made by Netflix and other streaming services. Makan Delrahim, an assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, has warned Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson that new rules being considered could violate antitrust laws that prohibit "anticompetitive agreements among competitors," the Los Angeles Times reports. Academy Board of Governors member Steven Spielberg has spoken out in favor of excluding Netflix movies from the Oscars, even when they have had theatrical releases, arguing that "once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie," which would deserve an Emmy, not an Oscar.
"If the Academy adopts a new rule to exclude certain types of films, such as films distributed via online streaming services, from eligibility for the Oscars, and that exclusion tends to diminish the excluded films’ sales," it could violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act, Delrahim wrote in a letter obtained by Variety. An Academy spokesperson said the organization had received the letter and "responded accordingly." "The Academy’s Board of Governors will meet on April 23 for its annual awards rules meeting, where all branches submit possible updates for consideration," the spokesperson said. The controversy intensified after Netflix movie Roma won three awards at this year's Oscars. (Read more Netflix stories.)