A number of European sales companies have protested to the organisers of the MIFED film market about price hikes being forced on exhibitors for this year's Milan event (Oct 28-Nov 1).

Outfits known to have written letters of complaint include France's Wild Bunch, Germany's Atlas International and ADEF, the French association of film exporters headed by Jacques-Eric Strauss.

They claim that MIFED has raised prices for office space by 11.5% compared with last year and the cost of registration has gone up by another 12%.

Tahereh Khazrai, Wild Bunch's market co-coordinator, described the protest as a "serious warning from exporters who have noticed that the event was less fruitful overthe past few years", and noted that the net effect of the price rises will be to further reduce the usefulness of the market.

"We will reserve less screenings than previous years in order to compensate our expenses on the event," warned Khazrai.

After years being run by the public sector body that owns the Milan Fiera site, MIFED isfor the first time now organised by the private company Rassegne.

One of Rassegne first actions was to close the Milan Selected Screenings that have been held in downtown Milan, a move made in response to industry pressure. The now-aborted Selected Screenings were originally intended to counter the competitive threat from the pre-MIFED screenings in London that have grown in industry stature these past few years.

Rassegne, which was not available for comment, has previously announced other changes including: the enlargement of the MIFED awards to include prizes for bestselling film and best distributor, as well as the existing best seller. In addition, The Italian Showcase will be enlarged and this year's event will institutionalise the annual round table on US-European relations.

In the longer term, MIFED's organisers plan to improve conditions in the screeningrooms and eventually to bring the market into a single pavilion instead of being spread out across four different areas in the sprawling Fiera complex.