chairman's report_01-02 by nuhman10



                      Chairman’s Report 2001-2002

The year 2001-2002 has seen the most far reaching changes to the Film Code of
Conduct in the first four years of the Code’s operation.

The changes were partly the result of the Code Administration Committee’s
review of the way the Code was working and partly from a comprehensive review
of the Code conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC).

The aim of the Code has always been to provide a basis for fair and equitable
dealing within the film exhibition and distribution industry and to provide a
workable framework for the settlement of disputes without resort to litigation.

As a result of the changes the Code is now more responsive to disagreements
between Code members, more effective because of the early intervention
procedures which have been introduced and more equitable because of the
involvements of the Secretariat and the Code Conciliator in the early stages of

Furthermore, the early intervention procedures are without cost to the parties, a
situation made possible by a rearrangement and an increase in funding for the
operation of the Code.

In addition to the early intervention procedures, which are dealt with in
considerable detail in Information Bulletin 1/2000, the Committee resolved
unanimously to condemn any retaliatory conduct which might arise out of
negotiations or complaints made under the Code of Conduct.

The resolution of the recommendations contained in the review of the Code of
Conduct by the ACCC has yet to take place. There have been a series of
meetings of the Administration Committee to consider how to incorporate the
recommendations in the Code with the agreement of all members of the

Each of the 35 recommendations of the ACCC has been taken back to the
organisations represented on the Committee for consideration. The Committee
has then considered the recommendations where there has been substantial
agreement and perhaps modified the working of the recommendations to obtain
general agreement.
There are still substantial areas of disagreement which are being discussed in
the process of trying to resolve those differences. The Committee has been
greatly assisted in the implementation of the recommendations by Robert Reeve
who has been able to reduce agreements reached into suitable clauses for
inclusion in the amended Code.

The ACCC has been closely involved with the meetings of the Committee
considering the proposed changes.

Regional Cinemas

Another positive step taken during the year was the acknowledgement by film
distributors of the special difficulties faced by small regional and rural cinemas.

A delegation from COAA met with representatives of the MPDAA in July 2001
under the auspices of the Code Administration Committee to discus the unique
role that regional and country cinemas played in their communities.

Acknowledging this role, film distributors said they would give the greatest
possible flexibility in the terms on which they supplied film. They would discuss
the difficulties with owners of smaller theatres, either individually or as a group to
work out acceptable and profitable screening terms.


The Committee has also approved the establishment of a website for the Film
Code as a means of making information to members quickly and of providing a
record of discussions and deliberation of the Administrative Committee. It is
expected that the website, currently being designed will be operational shortly
after the meeting to be held at the Movie Convention in August.


The Code could not have made any real contribution to the industry without the
assistance of the Code Conciliator and the Secretariat. The Code Conciliator,
David Newton, has compiled a Report from the Code Conciliator for the Annual

David Newton has played a leading role in the discussions preceding and
following the review of the Code by the ACCC. He has been able to solve all
disputes referred to him before they get to the stage of formal conciliation
Nathalie Birt has been outstanding in dealing with Code Signatories calling either
for information or to inquire about possible disputes. Her role has been
considerably upgraded since the new dispute resolution procedures have taken
effect and her dealing with the issues has led to resolution of possible
disagreements at a very early stage.

She has been invaluable in arranging and keeping of Minutes of the meetings of
the Committee.

On behalf of all Members, I thank David and Nathalie for the work they have
done supporting the Code and the work of the Committee

Future Challenges

The Committee needs to resolve quickly the outstanding matters dealt with by
the ACCC’s review of the Code. Given the composition of the Committee and
the disparate groups Committee members represent, there has been remarkable
agreement on a majority of the recommendations.

There has also been a great deal of goodwill directed to reaching a satisfactory
resolution of the outstanding matters. Assuming that, there will need to be
goodwill from all signatories to make sure the new provisions and procedures
bed down for the good of the Code and the industry.

I thank the members of the Committee for the support and commitment they
have given during the year.

John Dickie
John Dickie

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