Wednesday 21 August 2019

Disney lifts LA Times ban after backlash among media outlets

Disney complained about
Disney complained about "unfair coverage" of Disneyland Resort's relationship with the city of Anaheim (AP)

Disney has lifted its ban of Los Angeles Times reporters and critics from its press screenings after a widespread backlash prompted several media outlets to announce their own boycotts of the studio's movies.

The company said it was restoring access after "productive discussions with the newly-installed leadership" at the newspaper.

Disney had barred the Times from its screenings after the paper published a two-part investigative series on the company's business dealings in Anaheim, California, where Disneyland is.

The punitive measures against the Times led to many outlets refusing advance coverage of the studio's films, including The New York Times, the Boston Globe and The A.V. Club.

Four prominent film critics' groups announced on Tuesday they would bar Disney films from receiving awards consideration

The ban's withdrawal ended an unusual clash between Hollywood's arguably most powerful studio and the media outlets that regularly write about its movies.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics all said they would not consider Disney films for their year-end awards.

The critics' groups noted it was "admittedly extraordinary" to "take any action that might penalise film artists for decisions beyond their control".

A statement continued: "Disney brought forth this action when it chose to punish The Times' journalists rather than express its disagreement with a business story via ongoing public discussion.

"Disney's response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included."

The New York Times had said in a statement on Tuesday it would not attend preview screenings of Disney films while the LA Times was banned, saying Disney's move is a "dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest".

Disney had said on Friday that the Times series in September detailing what it characterised as a complicated and increasingly tense relationship between Anaheim and the company showed "a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards".

It added that the Times published a "biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda".

Daniel Miller, the Times reporter who wrote the series, tweeted that "Disney never asked for a correction". The newspaper declined further comment.

With the ban concluded, critics said they would return to business as usual. Disney's upcoming films are the Pixar release Coco and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.


"The Los Angeles Times has covered the Walt Disney Company since its founding, here in Los Angeles, in 1923," the newspaper said in a statement.

"We look forward to reporting on Disney well into the future."

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