Valenti irked by nix of pix by GATT talks

DEAUVILLE, France –“As of this moment, there’s been no serious negotiations on audiovisual, and that’s unthinkable,” MPAA president Jack Valenti said Wednesday in regard to the upcoming GATT discussions.

Talks are ongoing in the world trade negotiations, known as the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade) talks, but copyright industries, such as those involving films and sound recordings, are excluded.

EC and U.S. negotiators are said to have excluded them because of an impasse involving programming quotas and other trade issues.

In Deauville for the American Film Festival, Valenti told Daily Variety that the negotiators’ strategy has been to clear away agricultural issues. That means that if the treaty’s agricultural terms are to be finalized by Dec. 15, then serious talks must begin in September concerning the audiovisual sector.

“There are some people in Europe,” Valenti adds, “who want to exclude culture from the negotiations — movies, TV, videocassettes. Obviously, we’re passionately opposed to this.” He said the MPAA would “attempt to defeat in Congress” any GATT treaty that excluded cultural issues.

Valenti predicts that negotiations will begin tackling cultural issues this fall and feels a treaty will eventually be passed.

“European negotiators,” he said, “need to consider now what they’ll give up in order to get an entire GATT treaty along a design both sides can agree to.”

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