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Italy curbs exhibs

Antitrust proposal would restrict U.S. fare

MILAN — Italy’s government has endorsed antitrust legislation that would limit U.S. majors’ expansion into exhibition as well as place restrictions on film distribution policies by U.S. companies in Italy.

The legislation, backed by the center-left cabinet Friday, will be discussed by Parliament in the next few weeks.

Passage expected

Despite fierce hostility by opposition forces led by media tycoon turned politician Silvio Berlusconi, the antitrust bill should be approved with no major changes.”With the new limits, we will give Italian and European films more chances to circulate,” culture minister Giovanna Melandri said.

In a nutshell, the legislation would provide that any single exhibition company cannot control more than 20% of moviehouses nationwide. If a company also has film distribution or production activities, the limit is 16%, and if a company is active in all three businesses (exhibition, distribution and production) the ceiling is 12%.

Limits are also applied on a local basis, with additional caps in the big cities.

Limited runs

Significantly, each distributor will be allowed to show its films in the same theater for no more than 25% of the activity time of the theater over the year. This would mean about 90 days a year. However, if at least half of the distributed films are Italian and European, the ceiling will rise to 40%.