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France and Spain set U.S. product quotas

In moves designed to bulwark the European entertainment industry against increasing dominance by the U.S., both France and Spain have taken separate steps to slap quotas on U.S. showbiz imports.

The moves reflect a growing concern across Europe that Hollywood’s hold over their audiences is becoming a threat to their culture and blocking their own local talent.

The quota crackdowns also come in the wake of a bitter dispute between the U.S. and Europe over whether movies, TV shows and music should be subject to the same commercial regulations as other industries covered by the just-concluded General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Fresh from that victory, the French parliament moved one step closer Wednesday to erecting a new barrier to U.S. imports by agreeing to require radio stations to play at least 40% French music. Radio stations have until 1996 to comply with the quota requirement.

Meanwhile the Spanish parliament put finishing touches Wednesday on a complicated law designed to defend that country’s local film business from the overwhelming box office dominance of U.S. product.

The law requires film exhibitors in towns of more than 125,000 inhabitants to screen one Spanish film for every two U.S. films shown. In smaller municipalities the ratio would be one Spanish film for every three American pics. And in order for U.S. distribution companies to acquire dubbing licenses for their U.S. pics they will have to have distributed Spanish pics whose combined total receipts come to approximately $ 143,000.

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