HC Deb 08 June 1967 vol 747 cc250-2W
Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on his negotiations with the film industry about implementation of the Monopolies Commission's report on the supply of films for exhibition in cinemas.

Mr. Jay

Yes. As a result of discussions which my Department have had with representatives of all the interested parties, the industry has made proposals for implementation of the Monopolies Commission's report. I have accepted these proposals.

I have received assurances from the Rank Organisation and from the Associated British Picture Corporation that they will extend the practice of flexible booking, that is of giving trial runs to films whose commercial worth is in dispute and of giving partial circuit bookings to films which appeal only to a limited audience. The exhibitors' associations have also agreed to recommend their members to adopt a flexible attitude to the booking of films.

The industry are establishing a Trade Disputes Committee and an Appeal Tribunal to deal with disputes over the allocation of films. Any exhibitor in the industry, including one who proposes to build or open a new cinema, will be able to use this machinery. The Trade Disputes Committee will consist of four distributors and four exhibitors whose decision has to be unanimous. In the event of disagreement, the Appeal Tribunal will adjudicate on the matter. It will have a permanent, independent Chairman appointed by the industry in consultation with me, and he alone will have the center of decision, the industry's representatives acting only as advisers. I believe that this system will work satisfactorily. If it does not, the need for competitive bidding for individual films will be reconsidered.

The Rank Organisation have undertaken to show their documentary film "Look at Life" in their cinemas for not more than 39 weeks each year instead of the present 52. In the remaining 13 weeks they would book other documentary and short films on their merits, for showing on their circuit, subject to normal commercial considerations.

The industry have agreed that no cinema will operate a bar on a 35 mm. film for more than four weeks after starting to show the film. In the case of 70 mm. films, a maximum bar of 16 weeks will apply in an existing situation. As the Commission recommended, distri butors will remain free to determine the length of a run in the light of their assessment of the commercial advantage. The Board of Trade will keep under regular review the arrangements for settling disputes over time and distance bars.

The Kinematograph Renters' Society have agreed that the hire of any film should not be made conditional upon the acceptance of other films.

The Kinematograph Renters' Society have also undertaken to rescind the three recommendations which the Commission proposed that they should rescind.

The industry's intentions are explained in greater detail in a document which I am placing in the Library of the House. I am satisfied that this settlement should go a long way to improve competitive conditions in the film industry and I welcome the spirit in which the various sections of the industry have collaborated in reaching it.

I shall keep the whole situation under review in order to see that the desired effects are achieved. If it appears after a reasonable interval that they are not, I shall not hesitate to discuss the matter with the industry again and to take such further action as I consider necessary.