French exhibitors MK2 and Gaumont are to increase the price of their cinema loyalty card Le Pass from $13.48 (FF98) to $16.23 (FF118) as of June.

The move is the latest development in the bitter battle being fought for market share by France's exhibition groups. Loyalty cards, introduced first by UGC, are credited with increasing cinema admissions last year, but have been vilified by exhibition minnows and communications minister Catherine Tasca.

Announcing the increase, MK2 said that the cards are a victim of their own success and that they are piling up trouble for exhibitors. "At a price of FF98, an average usage of 4.5 times a month and the new guarantees provided to rights owners, we are seeing the market become a loss-making one," it said in a statement.

MK2, which originally opposed the concept of loyalty cards, said that the increase was necessary to redress the economic balance of the sector.

It currently has some 60,000 members, compared with 200,000 for UGC's Carte Illimite. UGC boss Guy Verrecchia recently said that it has no intention of increasing the cost of its cards and that they would only lose money if average usage exceeded 70 visits a year, compared with the average of 52 it is currently registering.

Pathe, which is currently in the process of merging its exhibition circuit with that of Gaumont, to form EuroPalaces, recently announced plans for its own card. It indicated that $17.88 (FF130) would be the appropriate price.