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Seoul pledges more screen quota cut

Korea Times | 27 October 2006

Seoul Pledges More Screen Quota Cut

By Kim Yon-se
Staff Reporter

SOGWIPO, Cheju Island — The government pledged behind-the-scenes to accept U.S. demands for reducing the screen quota to remove obstacles to free trade agreement (FTA) talks, according to a ministry memo obtained by The Korea Times.

Our position for the future is that Korea will by all means keep its promise to the U.S. to maintain the reduced screening quota (or further curtail it). It is a promise between the two countries,'' said the memo, distributed to related ministries.Our statement that we will get concessions from the U.S. (in which the screen quota for Korean movies can be re-implemented in its original strength if the domestic movie industry faces difficulties) is merely a persuasion card to placate the domestic movie industry,’’ the government document also said.

The screen quota, which made it mandatory for cinemas to show domestic movies for 146 days per year, was halved to 73 days on July 1.

According to the memo, the U.S. told Korean FTA negotiators that Hollywood has deep anxieties about Seoul’s strategy to gain concessions for the screen quota.

Though the government clarified that the movie sector is not an FTA talks item, the U.S. commented on the screen quota during the third round of FTA talks in Seattle last month.

Reducing the screen quota for Korean movies was one of the four prior requirements demanded by Washington to open the bilateral talks for free trade.

The memo also said, ``It seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will accept the U.S. demand (to make it impossible to increase the mandatory running days for Korean movies).’’

It added that the government believes the U.S. film industry will adhere to its earlier position of not allowing Korea to expand the screen quota again in the future.

 source: Korea Times