The Norwegian Film and TV Producers Society (NFTPS) has called for the abolishment of legislation which allows local authorities to control the handing out of licences to run cinemas in Norway.

Under Norway''s 1913 Cinema Act, local councils are the are only bodies with the power to grant cinema licences - and as local councils also operate most of Norway''s cinemas - several sectors of the industry are claiming a major conflict of interest.

Industry opposition to the local council monopoly comes at a time when distributor SF Norge is planning to open cinemas in seven Norwegian cities including Oslo (Screendaily January 25).

The Norwegian government set up a National Cinema Committee to conduct a survey on the Cinema Act and licence issue in December last year. A total of 83 companies from different sectors of the industry - including the Norwegian Film Club Society and National Competition Control - were asked to contribute. So far 11 companies have responded, most of which are in favour of loosening the monopoly situation.

In its response, the NFTPS claims that:

  • The most successful cinemas in Norway are privately run.
  • That the Cinema Act is outdated as it was introduced at a time when cinema was considered a dangerous new cultural medium,
  • The Cinema Act is out of line with pan-European guidelines on market competition.
  • The Act restricts the market for locally-produced films because it is restricting development of the exhibition market.
  • The NFTPS is also concerned that the 23% sales tax which has been removed from local productions, prevents film producers from write-offs against VAT. However the production community is hopeful that Norway''s incoming Labour government and new culture minister - to be announced Friday (March 17) - will be in favour of revamping current legislation.