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Rival exhib pursues Roadshow in court

Reading alleges abuse of market power

SYDNEY — Struggling new exhibitor Reading has compounded Village Roadshow’s woes by launching legal action against the entertainment conglom in federal court.

Reading is seeking undisclosed damages from Roadshow Distributors for alleged abuse of market power after Roadshow refused to supply firstrun prints to Reading’s Market City site.

Reading’s attempts to enter the exhib business have been thwarted by protracted legal battles with Hoyts, Village and their affils. Village Cinemas last week vowed to halve its operating territories and increase cinema marketing efforts after recording a A$12 million ($6 million) six-month loss.

Reading and Oz’s Cinema Owners Assn. have declared they will fight for a re-examination of the conduct rules governing exhibs and distribs.

VRL further suffered the loss (March 20) of its Web portal Scape, a joint venture with CanWest’s 10 Network. The venture gobbled $22 million in 18 months and is now in voluntary administration.

In an unrelated case, VRL is launching a dozen separate lawsuits against individuals and companies to reclaim part of $5.5 million that Village Roadshow claims was embezzled from the company over a two-year period.

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