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Australians fighting region coding

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Australians fighting region coding

Old 05-24-01, 12:32 AM
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Regulator challenges DVD zones
By Consumer Affairs Reporter MICHAEL OWEN-BROWN

A REGIONAL zoning system that forces consumers to pay up to 20 per cent more for DVD movies is being challenged by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC says major Hollywood studios have collaborated with the manufacturers of digital video disc players to prevent discs manufactured in the US, Europe or Asia from working in Australian machines.
The commission has asked the Australian subsidiaries of US film companies to explain their actions in what could lead to the world's first legal challenge to the Regional Playback Control system.

Under RPC, the world is divided into six regions. Australia is in region four with New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and South America.

Each disc and DVD player is encrypted with a digital code so that only discs programmed for sale in region four will work with Australian players. This prevents people from buying cheaper DVDs overseas or through the Internet. DVD movies cost about $35 here. The system aims to protect cinema ticket sales by preventing people ordering DVD movies yet to be released in Australia.

However, the arrangement may breach the Trade Practices Act.

ACCC Commissioner Ross Jones said in a recent speech the zoning system prevented small film companies from distributing their movies around the world.

"Their sales are generally too small to justify catering for region four. This reduces competition to the advantage of US studios," he said.

By the end of 1999, there were 720 DVDs available in region four, but more than 5000 in the US.

Australian Consumers Association spokesman Charles Britton said yesterday the zoning system imposed a "severe restriction of choice".

Although unsure whether ACCC action could realistically force Hollywood moguls to scrap the system, Mr Britton said "a statement of principle would be very useful".

He said it was feasible that a court could order that all DVD players sold here have a multi-zone capability.

Old 05-24-01, 06:17 AM
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It's kinda funny because Australians already have the cheapest DVDs in the Western world. The $35 figure mentioned in the article is equivalent to US$17.50. I don't really see how the US companies are getting any sort of advantage.

Eg. RRP of Lawrence of Arabia is US$39.95 and AUS$39.95. Half the price in Australia.

And so far as I can tell RRP on the following titles is about to be reduced to US$12.50.

Die Hard
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
For A Few Dollars More
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
The Great Escape
Missing In Action
A Fistful Of Dollars
The Birdcage
There's Something About Mary
A Fish Called Wanda
The Thin Red Line
Romeo & Juliet
Thelma & Louise
Ever After
The Thomas Crown Affair
Point Break
The Siege
Child's Play
Speed 2
X-Files: The Movie
Planet Of The Apes
Species 2
Alien - 20th Anniversary
Aliens - Special Edition

How could anyone think this state of affairs constitutes reduced competition?
Old 05-24-01, 08:45 AM
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Whilst it is true that Australia probably has the cheapest legally released DVDs in the world, the ACCC attack on region coding is really over the fact that Region 1 has something like 8,000 DVDs as opposed to the 1,400 or so in Australia.

The crux of their attack is the fact that the Australian consumer is (in theory) being denied access, by region coding, to a lot of DVDs that are unlikely to get a release in Australia, and therefore are being denied their basic right of choice.

Whilst I don't necessarily agree with the ACCC investigation, as it could have negative repercussions on pricing in Australia, it is true that the Australian public is (in theory) being denied access to not just product that is otherwise not available in Australia, but also to better quality product. A good example is the lamentable Ultimate Toy Box in Region 4 compared to the excellent Region 1 release.

Old 05-25-01, 04:37 AM
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I strongly second this quarrel. I live in Region 2, and although releases seem to be getting better as time passes, a lot of them still don't hold a candle to region 1 released DVD's. I say open up this rediculously restricted market!

Even if this really doesn't force anyone to remove region coding, it does make a statement.

Old 05-25-01, 08:21 AM
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Yes they can get "court could order that all DVD players sold here have a multi-zone capability", then this would take care of part of the problem.

But it would be easier if australians (or europeans) do not have to purchase DVDs from another market.
Old 05-25-01, 10:01 AM
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What exactly is it that we're hoping this will achieve?
Old 05-25-01, 10:48 AM
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I think region coding is fundamentally wrong and more countries should stand up and be counted. I applaud the Assis stand.
Old 05-26-01, 11:01 AM
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Right On!!

This action is very true. I find that I can understand where companies are coming from with Region Coding. Its not to stop foreign ppl buying dvd's. Its more to stop pirates like in Asia. They lose most money to the video pirates because most DVD's will be out before or during their showing in Asian countries so it means these pirates have an easier way of getting films in top quality. However there fight against video piracy is affecting the rest of the world. I live in New Zealand and love getting Region 1 dvd's. Some in NZ that are Region 4 are exactly the same but DVD's such as Fight Club are no contest. The R4 of Fight Club had a trailer the R1 of Fight Club had an extra disc of extras. That is sometimes the difference. However smaller films such as the documentary One Day in September are unfortunatly brought out by Sony. This documentary is great about the munich olympics but because it was distributed by Sony on DVD it means I cannot get it. Now this film won't make much money overseas and its small film status means that its harder to get overseas. I have looked for it here but can't get it and because of RCE which means I cannot get this film. I know RCE isn't the same as Region Code but it is more political. My Statement: Put more effort into making better dvd's with more extras than the pitful ones with only a trailer and stop wasting the money of the consumer to try and stamp out the foreign customers. Our sales help your companies worldwide!!

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