MPAA Head Chris Dodd Plans to Reach out to NATO on Premium VOD

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He says his relative inexperience and the need to stay out of business decisions of individual studios have so far kept him quiet on the controversial topic of early-release films.

NEW YORK - MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd plans to reach out and build bridges to the National Association of Theatre Owners, whose head is his long-time friend John Fithian, on the issue of premium VOD, the New York Times reported.

The issue of early-release movies, launched by DirecTV last week, has divided studios and exhibitors. But Dodd has mainly stayed out of the first crisis since the former senator took on the new role last month.

“I’m the new kid on the block,” Dodd told the Times, citing his relative inexperience and the need to stay out of business decisions made by individual studios. “Each company has to make up its own mind.”

The film industry's main challenges these days are philosophical and relate to new models and business decisions that are largely outside the reach of trade groups, which are limited by antitrust law from interfering in business decisions, rather than public policy issues, the Times said.

But Dodd told the paper that he regretted that premium VOD launched amid conflict. “Can there always be a better way of dealing with these things? Of course there can,” he said. Dodd said the service could be valuable to families with young children, senior citizens, the disabled and those living in remote areas.

Studios don't want to see theatrical business and exhibitors weakened though, Dodd emphasized. “They don’t make these things for small screens,” he said.