Country cinemas gain in cinema code actions

23 December 1999
Rural cinemas have been the first beneficiaries of the Film Distribution and Exhibition Code of Conduct, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today.

"Until recently, small country cinemas have had to wait many months after the first release of a film before they gained access to a print.

"As a result of the Code some distributors are willing to try new arrangements that benefit both exhibitors in small country towns and the distributors.

"For example, UIP has introduced innovative arrangements where small country cinemas form a circuit to rotate a first release film over each of their cinemas. These sites receive films from UIP much earlier than would otherwise be the case. The ACCC encourages other distributors to offer such flexibility to rural cinimas.

"The ACCC has just reviewed the first 12 months of the operation of the Code, which was designed to improve business relations between film exhibitors and distributors," he said. "And although it is early days for the Code, it seems that there are positive moves for both sides of the industry.

"The Code Administration Committee has produced a consensus Code of Conduct aimed at avoiding disputes. Experience has shown that few disputes have been raised, with most being resolved without the need for formal conciliation. The ACCC believes the Code is worthy of support by the whole industry.

"The ACCC spoke with a number of industry representatives and remains particularly concerned about two issues affecting independent exhibitors, namely: that distributors are not always advising exhibitors of the terms of supply before screening begins, as required by the Code; and the fact that country cinemas are paying first-release prices for films they get well after national release.

"The ACCC intends to further investigate the pricing policies of some distributors whereby country exhibitors are charged first week prices many weeks after a film has been released.

"Now the Code is up and running, it is time for such issues to be investigated and resolved.

"The ACCC considered and recommends monitoring the move to 'user-pays' for advice from the Code Conciliator. The Code Committee also has a role in developing strategies to prevent similar issues re-occurring.

"The ACCC will continue to monitor the Code and will consider further reviews, especially with regard to the 'user-pays' system and certain elements of pricing.

The public report will be available from the ACCC website:


Release number: 
MR 252/99
ACCC Infocentre: 

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