The Academy has announced this year’s changes to the Oscar campaign rules, with only one significant new rule — and it’s aimed, to nobody’s surprise, at the Music Branch.
For next year’s Oscars, branch members will be prohibited from contacting other members “to promote the nomination of their own song in any way, including via mail, email, telephone or social media.”
Branch members are also prohibited from attending the live performance of any of the nominated songs, unless the performance is part of a screening of the film.
The change was predictable, because the biggest controversy of the past Oscar season came with the unprecedented disqualification of a nomination for the song “Alone Yet Not Alone.” Songwriter and Academy governor Bruce Broughton appealed directly to members to listen to his song during the nominating process — and even though the Music Branch investigated and approved his action, the board ruled that he had unfairly abused his position as governor because he “took advantage of information that few other potential nominees are privy to.”
Broughton argued that he was not lobbying for his song, but simply trying to make voters aware of it — and that he was at a significant disadvantage because his song was from a small movie that did not have the campaign budget of many of its rivals. His disqualification was based on an Academy interpretation of what was “fair and equitable,” rather than on the violation of a written rule.
The AMPAS Board of Governors approved the new rules at Tuesday night’s board meeting, at the end of a three-step process of reviewing rules each year.
The individual branches had previously examined the rules in each category and recommended changes, and then the Awards Rules Committee reviewed the proposed changes before turning the final decision over to the board.
Full campaign rules are available at the AMPAS website.
The 87th Academy Awards will take place next Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theater at Hollywood & Highland. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 15.