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Top Korean Cinema Chains Fined $5 Million For Unfair Operation

HONG KONG — South Korea’s two biggest cinema chains were this week fined for anti-competitive practises.

CJ-CGV was fined $2.9 million and Lotte Entertainment fined $2.1 million by the country’s Fair Trade Commission.

The fines were imposed after the FTC earlier rejected the two companies’ attempt to obtain a ‘consent decree’ – an offer of voluntary restitution by a guilty party – was rejected.

The FTC said that the two chains had favoured the releases of movies handled by their affiliated distribution companies, by giving them wider releases and longer theatrical runs.

Standout examples included CJ Entertainment’s 2012 hit “Masquerade,” and Lotte’s “The Taste of Money.” The FTC said that the two chains had also given out discount vouchers to third party films without the consent of the distributors.

“It’s meaningful because the commission is taking strong legal action for the first time against the unfair practices of large, vertical integrated cinema chains,” said FTC director Kim Jae-joong.

The FTC action follow years of complaints by producers’ and other trade associations and a probe by the Korean Film Council.

In response the Ministry of Culture said that it would more closely monitor the screening practises of the major groups.

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