When it rains it pours. Congress is
currently considering many different legislative proposals
that would have a direct impact on the motion picyure
NATO's lobbying team is so busy I instructed our representatives
at the law firm of Patton Boggs to skip writing a column
for this edition of our magazine, but rather to stay on
Capitol Hill to work on all the pending issues. That instruction
explains why NATO's president is writing what is essentially
a Washington Report this month!
Here are some of the highlights of our current legislative
to combat movie piracy has been introduced in the Senate
and the House of Representatives. Of particular
concern to theatre owners, the bills (S. 1932 and H.R.
4077) include provisions to outlaw the use of recording
devices in movie theatres. The House bill has been approved
by a subcommittee and will move to full committee in the
next few weeks. As I write this in late April, it seems
likely the Senate bill will also soon be considered by
committee, perhaps by the time you read this.
NATO supports the effort to criminalize
movie piracy in theatres, at both the state and federal
level. (With NATO’s
support, 10 states have enacted such legislation.) At
the federal level, however, the current bills need to
before NATO can support them. Specifically, we seek language
in the legislation that would provide liability protection
against false arrest claims for theatre employees who
detain movie pirates for the purpose of causing their
We are optimistic that changes will be made to satisfy
A team of NATO member company representatives
held a series of April 20 congressional meetings on piracy
NATO personnel were joined by our new coalition partners
from the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the National
Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and
the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA). (See the
more on this new coalition.)
Association Health Plan
Legislation. Also on April
20, another team of NATO company representatives
the Hill to lobby in favor of legislation that would
national trade associations to offer health insurance
plans to their members. This legislation would permit
to band together to purchase affordable health benefits.
So-called “AHP legislation” has already
passed the full House and is pending in the Senate.
health plans would be open to all trade association
members, such plans would be particularly helpful
to smaller, independent
theatre operators who currently have a difficult
time obtaining affordable health insurance.
Movie Captioning Tax Credit Legislation. After meeting
with theatre operators in his home state, Sen. Mark
Dayton (D-Minn.) has proposed an amendment that would
a tax credit for expenses incurred to make motion
pictures more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
currently drafted, the senator’s amendment
would allow a credit of 90 percent for any amounts
paid or incurred by studios
or theatre operators for this purpose. The amendment
would make it much more affordable for studios and
to offer either open captioning or closed captioning.
Dayton has proposed his amendment
to an underlying corporate tax bill (S. 1637) aimed at
ending a costly
with Europe. That bill provides tax breaks to U.S.
manufacturers in place of export subsidies that
have been ruled illegal
under international trade rules.
Obesity Liability Legislation. The
House has approved legislation (H.R. 339) that would
liability suits tied
to the claim that a business’ food precipitates obesity.
The restaurant industry strongly supports the bill, called “The
Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act.” The
legislation would also protect theatre operators
and anyone else selling food against such lawsuits.
Minimum Wage Legislation. Sen. Ted
Kennedy (D-Mass.) continues to pursue an amendment strategy
the Senate with his
proposal to raise the federal minimum wage
from $5.15/hour to $7/hour. We expect a vote on the
Though we are busy with this legislative
agenda, we are pleased that most of the initiatives
are helpful to our
members this year. One need only think back
to 1999 – when
Congress attempted to codify the movie rating system and
impose criminal penalties on theatre owners – to
remember that legislation can be threatening or helpful.
We will keep you informed!