Rethink discount restriction

Updated: 2012-02-29 08:02

(China Daily)

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Opinions have been solicited on a proposal issued recently by the film administration under the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, to restrict the discounted price of movie tickets to no less than 70 percent of the full price.

This has provoked immediate criticism. Not only from moviegoers who are complaining they will no longer be able to buy so many tickets, but also from those who argue the discount-restricting draft is at odds with market rules.

Discount tickets encourage people to go to the cinema and are mostly group purchases, rewarded to cinema members or offered through sales promotions. They have produced benefits for both cinemas and group-buying websites.

Normally, different operators will set their own prices and adjust them through market competition.

In China's major cities, full-price movie tickets normally cost between 50-100 yuan ($8-16). However, through group buying or other means, moviegoers are often able to buy tickets for about 35 yuan or even cheaper.

However, if implemented, the discount restriction may help to forge a price alliance.

The Price Law designates the things to be priced under government guidance, such as goods that are necessary for the development of the national economy and people's livelihoods, or that are scarce resources, or important public utilities and important services for public welfare.

Given that cinema tickets do not fall into any of these categories, ticket prices should be determined by the market.

The proposal also goes against the Anti-monopoly Law, which states that no administrative organs may abuse their administrative power to formulate any provisions that eliminate or restrict competition.

The relevant authorities should take public opinion and these laws into account and modify the draft before putting it into practice, as it hurts consumers, is legally unjustified and could have a negative effect on the country's cultural development and prosperity.

(China Daily 02/29/2012 page8)