MPAA Presses For Duty-Free Digital Movie Shipments To Overseas Theaters

The MPAA is lobbying for movies shipped abroad in “digital cinema packs,” which have replaced traditional film reels, included under duty-free provisions of an expanded international trade agreement. The digital movie media didn’t exist when the first International Trade Agreement was negotiated in 1996. MPAA EVP Greg Frazier today told the U.S. International Trade Commission that last year there were more digital screens around the world than traditional screens, something that has dramatically cut the cost of distributing movies. Frazier suggested that “iconic spools of film … will soon be relegated to the Smithsonian.” Including the digital cinema packs in an expanded duty-free accord should prevent costly customs problems associated with film reels, he said. In some countries, customs officials determine movie tariffs based on the length of the film. “We were shut out of one market for six months because of various machinations of customs officials.” Talks among the 70 current member countries of the ITA pact are expected to begin next year in Geneva.

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