Finding that two entertainment journalists had failed to show that they were economically harmed by being denied membership in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a federal appeals court in Pasadena rejected a challenge to the admittance policies of the organization that stages the Golden Globe Awards, according to court documents obtained Friday.
In an opinion issued Thursday, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the HFPA does not control access to talent — Hollywood studios do — so the organization could not block non-members from interview opportunities.
“We do not question that membership in the HFPA provides economic benefits, in part because the ability to vote on the Golden Globe Awards can generate valuable business opportunities,” according to the appellate panel. “But membership in almost any trade association provides some kind of economic benefit. It does not follow that every trade association must open itself to all comers.”
In an antitrust lawsuit filed last year, the reporters — Kjersti Flaa, from Norway, and Rosa Gamazo Robbins, a dual citizen of Spain and the United States — alleged that the HFPA excluded them from membership because they might compete with an existing member.
The HFPA runs the foreign entertainment reporting market like an exclusive club and is unwilling to share the “enormous economic benefits” that membership provides with anyone it deems a competitive threat, the journalists alleged in an amended complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.
However, an L.A. federal judge dismissed the suit a year ago, holding that the amended complaint was “creative but implausible” and “hopelessly muddled” — setting the stage for the filing with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.