The cause was the Motion Picture Association of Americas decision to ban screeners (video and DVD editions of the years film releases) from distribution to voters in the Motion Picture Academy and the various critics organizations which award annual prizes.
While no critic would dispute the right of a filmmaker to withhold his or her film from such distribution, the problem is that the major studios are using their muscle to make it a blanket prohibition. Independent films, which can only muster a few play dates even when they are commercially successful, cant come close to matching the reach of even mid-range studio features, which puts them at a severe disadvantage.
This disadvantage appears terribly convenient for the majors, so much so that the executives at the divisions of the majors which handle independent, foreign, and other specialty features (Fox Searchlight, Paramount Classics, Sony Classics, Miramax, and so forth) have raised their voices in loud protest.
The L.A. critics dont like being manipulated into a corner by this policy. Of course it would be best to see every movie on the big screen. But in the years since screeners have become common, the number of films released per year has increased by 33%. You just cant see everything. Moreover, as the year draws to an end, critics like to go over films from earlier in the year for second or even third viewings, especially when considering categories such as best score, production design, and certainly the two supporting actor slots.
The cancellation is contingent on the MPAA’s rescinding the screener policy. If it goes, the cancellation goes. But the crucial word is "rescind." Not alter or modify. Rescind.