ACCC proposes to authorise independent cinemas to bargain collectively

28 September 2017

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation to Independent Cinemas Australia (ICA), and its current and future independent cinema members, to share information and collectively bargain with film distributors.

ICA and its members are seeking to share information with each other and collectively bargain with film distributors on the terms of film licensing agreements.

“Independent Cinema Australia’s proposal is likely to benefit the public as it should reduce negotiation costs for independent cinemas and distributors who participate,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

“Any cost reductions and improved terms from collective bargaining may help the viability of small cinemas, and allow them to reinvest into their cinemas, creating a better experience for cinema-goers.”

The ACCC does not consider that the proposed conduct is likely to result in significant public detriment.

Participation in the collective bargaining proposed by ICA is voluntary for all parties, and the proposed conduct does not include cinemas engaging in any collective boycott of films supplied by distributors.

“Information sharing under the proposed authorisation is not likely to harm competition, as independent cinemas face competition from large chains. An authorisation would not override any confidentiality arrangements protecting commercially sensitive information,” Mr Featherston said.

The ACCC has published the draft determination on the ACCC public register: Independent Cinemas Australia Inc. - A91587.

The ACCC is now seeking submissions on the draft determination. Submissions should be sent to the ACCC by 20 October 2017.

The ACCC expects to release its final determination in December 2017.


ICA is a not for profit industry association representing independent cinema owners in Australia and New Zealand. ICA has 84 members across Australia.

ICA members range from those operating several cinema complexes in metropolitan areas to members with single complex urban and regional cinemas.

Film distributors include Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing, Twentieth Century Fox Films, Universal Pictures International Australasia, the Walt Disney Company (Australia) and Warner Bros/Roadshow as well as smaller independent distributors such as Entertainment One Films Australia, Studiocanal and Transmission Films.

Notes to editors

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

About the authorisation process:

  • Generally, the ACCC can grant authorisation if it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment, including any lessening of competition.
  • The ACCC is required to publish a draft decision (‘determination’) in relation to an application. This is usually 3-4 months after receiving an application.
  • The ACCC conducts public consultation with interested parties both before and after a draft determination.
  • The applicants or interested parties may call a ‘conference’ to make oral submissions to the ACCC about the draft decision.
  • The ACCC will generally release its final decision (‘determination’) 5–6 months after receiving an application. The ACCC expects to release its final decision in December 2017.

Further information about the application for authorisation is available on the ACCC Authorisations Register.

Release number: 
MR 164/17
ACCC Infocentre: 

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