The battle between United Intl. Pictures (UIP) and European Union competition commissioner Karel van Miert has escalated following Van Miert’s statement Friday that UIP would no longer be “tolerated.”
Although he refused to make specific accusations of malpractice against UIP, Van Miert said: “This decision has not been taken lightheartedly, but I am fully convinced that our case is solid.”
Contacted in Los Angeles, a UIP spokesman said the distrib would continue to operate and remained confident of being able to prove its case before the commission.
Van Miert said that the commission had two main objections to UIP. First, “The commission originally only granted UIP an exemption from its competition rules due to the depressed state of European exhibition. That (reason) no longer applies.”
Second, according to Van Miert, UIP has not fulfilled its commitment to produce and distribute European and third-party films to a “satisfactory” level. “With the exception of Spain, non-studio films (from UIP) never represented more than 1% of all films distributed in each European territory.”
Van Miert said the Commission would resolve the issue within “months,” although on its past record years is more likely.
Representatives from Paramount, Universal and MGM refused to speculate about what might happen if the company is forced to break up.