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Italy Cinema Group Says Government Measures May Reduce Film Choices for Moviegoers

Current laws currently limit how close cinemas can be and whether they can show the same films; liberalization plans will remove such rules.

ROME – Italy’s main cinema operator’s group on Wednesday complained that government liberalization plans for the cinema sector will reduce choices for film lovers.

The Italian government, led by Mario Monti, is pushing through a series of tough austerity measures to pay down government debt, and liberalization plans aimed at sparking growth. As part of the latter, Monti is removing rules governing many professions, ranging from taxi drivers to pharmacists to cinema owners.

Current laws limit how close cinemas can be, whether nearby cinemas can show the same films, and the minimum time films must remain in cinemas. Lionello Cerri, president of ANEC, the Italian cinema operators’ association, called the move “dangerous and counterproductive” in a statement.

“The government wants to open up the sector in an uncontrolled manner, and it will have a devastating effect,” Cerri said. He said he agreed the rules for cinema operators needed reform but said they “should be targeted and tailored to the sector.” He said the government was trying to apply the same liberalization strategy across many sectors.

Cerri predicted that the changes would hurt small cinemas in town and city centers in favor of large multiplexes and would ultimately reduce the number of films available to the public and could erode the number of film tickets sold.

“Already, traditional cinemas have disappeared from large urban centers like Rome, Naples, Florence, and Milan,” Cerri said. “This change will doom the few that remain.”