Want to watch a film? Then cinema owners and film distributors want a continuing favour from government to ensure you watch it when and where they want you to.
For years, cinemas have enjoyed protection in law: a blanket ban on DVD, Blu-Ray, Pay-Per-View or Free-To-Air providers bringing in new films for 9 months, giving cinema owners a ‘window’ in which to show new films held open by government protection—and downloaders high motivation to harvest films illegally online.
The government’s ban was supposed to be temporary. It has lasted now for ten years. In that time the number of cinema businesses has risen from 66 to 87. So now, in a case study of how “temporary” government rules become permanent, your government now intends to maintain the “temporary” ban, shortening it only to a 5-month window instead of nine.
Why? Since it does no-one else any favours, it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that it’s to appease cinema owners and film distributors. Submitting to the select committee hearing submissions on the ban’s extension, film distributors spokesman Andrew Cornwell (General Manager of Sony Pictures and distributor for the Walt Disney Company) contended instead that the ban would help consumers, because “that’s what New Zealand consumers actually want,” said the self-serving prick. “You know they don’t want Christmas cake in June.”
I have news for you Mr Cornwell. If this is what New Zealand consumers actually want, to wait five months to see a movie, then you wouldn’t need your bloody ban. If they really wanted to wait five months before seeing a new film in someone’s cinema, then you wouldn’t need a ban to stop them seeing it earlier in their home.
It’s not rocket science.
The fact a ban is “needed” is not to help consumers, but only to stop consumers doing what cinema owners and film distributors don’t like them doing, which is patronising their online and shop-based competitors. The fact this government gives such venal rent-seeking house room is reprehensible.
Way back in 1776, Adam Smith was astute enough to recognise that
The interest of the dealers ... in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respect different from, and even opposite to, that of the publick. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the publick; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can only serve to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they would normally be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens….
[Merchants and manufacturers like Mr Cornwell represent] an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
The mixed economy of so-called “crony capitalism” we presently enjoy is brought about, following Smith’s argument, by deception and intimidation. Merchants and manufacturers clamour and cajole in an effort to subordinate the legislature to their private interest; appealing to their their "vulgar prejudices” to persuade them that the interests of merchants and manufacturers are actually "the interests of the public."
Mr Cornwell is a prime example.