The French Parliament has endorsed the country's controversial loyalty card scheme by passing a set of regulatory guidelines that has met the approval of the various film industry lobbies.

All exhibitors will be able to issue or participate in a loyalty card scheme, providing they have secured authorisation from the French film and TV regulatory and support board, the CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie).

Exhibitors which have more than a 25% share of a specific market (8% in Paris and its suburbs) - or 0.5% at a national level - will have to open up the scheme to other exhibitors in the same zone.

The legislation also stipulates that rightholders must be adequately remunerated through a set fee per admission. Independent exhibitors which participate in a loyalty pass scheme are also to benefit from a "safety net", details of which have yet to be decided.

The loyalty pass scheme - which enables cinema-goers to see an unlimited number of films in theatres belonging to the company that has issued the pass - was launched by UGC in March 2000.

UGC's Illimite card was an overnight success and other exhibitors such as Gaumont and Pathe soon followed suit. French culture minister Catherine Tasca opposed the scheme, along with most French film industry lobbies, but was unsuccessful in her attempts to curb the trend.