The Academy OfMotion Picture Arts & Sciences yesterday issued strict new guidelines overmarketing practices for Oscar contenders. They aren't guidelines anymore,the Academy statement said, they are "regulations."

The Academythreatens suspension of membership or expulsion if members indulge in campaignactivities which have undermined the letter or spirit of the regulations andeven suggests that "more serious violations could result in a film losingits eligibility for awards consideration." The Academy hasn'tdisqualified a film from the running since Un Lugar En El Mundo was stripped of its foreign languagefilm nomination in 1993 when it was deemed not to meet eligibility criteria.

In the past,companies or film campaigns which have crossed the line have been subject toloss of tickets for the Oscar ceremony itself but it will no longer be the onlypenalty applied, the Academy said yesterday. "There will now be personalconsequences to improper campaigning," said Academy president FrankPierson. "We don't know yet what the mechanics of censure will be,but, believe me, they'll be in place."

The regulationsthemselves have not changed dramatically, although one change has been made inresponse to the infamous Robert Wise trade advert last year in which Wise, aformer Academy president, was quoted as urging members to vote for Gangs Of NewYork. The ad, which was paid for by Gangs distributor Miramax Films, causeduproar that Wise could be so blatantly quoted favouring one film.

"We haveadded a prohibition regarding quote ads," said Ric Robertson, the Academyexecutive administrator charged with enforcing the regulations. That newregulation states that "any form of advertising that includes quotes orcomments by Academy members is prohibited."

Other newregulations are:

- Theprohibition of empty tape or DVD boxes being sent out to members as"placeholders" or reminders that the actual tape or DVD will besent at a future date.

- Theprohibition of gifts or tapes being packaged with ads in "thirdparty" trade publications.

- The removal ofNov 1 as the specified date before which no tapes or DVDs can be sent out tomembers; now films can be sent out at any time of the year.

Whetherdistribution companies will find loopholes in the regulations or not is anotherquestion. Since the Academy moved the ceremony forward by three weeks to Feb 29next year, film companies have three weeks' less in which to campaign fortheir films and increase grosses accordingly.

The deadline foracceptance of submissions for the documentary feature category is now Sept 2and for foreign-language film submissions Oct 1. Prints of foreign filmsubmissions must now reach the Academy in Los Angeles by Oct 15 at the latest,a tall order for many countries.