In reel trouble?

Korea probes big three exhibs' control over biz

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is probing the alleged “oligopolistic” level of control wielded by Korean exhibitors CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema.

“We are already conducting an investigation into unfair practices carried out by the three major exhibitors and their affect on the film industry,” said FTC chairman Kwon Oh-seung on Tuesday.

The probe dates back to a complaint filed to the FTC in March by a special committee made up of producers, investors and distributors. The committee is concerned about how theatrical receipts are divided and how the decision is made to remove a film from theaters.

Many also claim that the commercial strength of the three exhibitors gives an insurmountable advantage to the three powerful studios — CJ Entertainment, Showbox and Lotte Entertainment — with which they are associated.

An FTC representative said that an investigative committee had already presented evidence at a general meeting of the FTC, which suggested that larger exhibitors had acted unfairly in their dealings with smaller theaters.

He added that as public concern is growing about the large exhibitors’ practices, the investigation would be expanded to encompass other aspects of oligopoly in the Korean film industry.