UPDATED 29/1/15: And Now, The End Is Near, with details of the sale of the Cambridge Cineworld and my final thoughts on the poor handling of the process by the various government organisations involved
UPDATED 27/12/14: State Of The Nation, including the latest update on the sales of affected cinemas
See the comments section of the above post for the latest updates.
The Competition Commission, at the request of the Office Of Fair Trading, investigated the competition issues surrounding the purchase of City Screen Limited, which runs the Picturehouse cinemas, by Cineworld Group plc. The investigation concluded that three areas – Aberdeen, Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds – were likely to suffer a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) as a result. Their only solution to the problem was to require Cineworld Group to sell either a Picturehouse or a Cineworld in each area affected. As someone who lives almost halfway between Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds and relies on the quality and variety that both chains offer – and something which, as someone who’s also been to cinemas of every other major chain in the past two years – I believed that the loss of either could be of serious detriment to the area, and also make compiling this blog significantly more challenging.
Cineworld decided to sell the Picturehouses in Aberdeen and Bury St Edmunds, and thankfully both were purchased by good, reasonably independent buyers who intend to continue to run them in the same manner. At this time, Cineworld are still deciding which one to sell in Cambridge, and the process has taken so long that the Competition Commission no longer exists, having been merged with the Office Of Fair Trading to form the Competition Market Authority. I wrote a number of articles, as did many others, on why I believed this to be wrong and why it should be stopped. Despite all of the activity, the legal process proved frustratingly elusive to challenge for private individuals. Below are the various articles that I wrote during the various stages of the process and the findings being released.
I’ve written at length on the Commission’s initial findings:
And then, after the publication of the full report, some further thoughts:
And a view on why simply selling the Cineworlds rather than the Picturehouses doesn’t solve the problem either:
Take One, the independent Cambridge film website and magazine, also have a page with a number of articles, including editorial views and a feature on why running the cinema as a cooperative isn’t practical:
There is also a petition to make the Competition Commission aware of the strength of feeling, which can be found here:
And you can read the full reports, findings and proposed remedy to the situation at the Competition Commission website.
Following the publication of the final report, I consider the questions that remain unanswered and call for further action.
Here I explore the economics of the Commission’s decision, and appeal for someone to help explain to me the economics, which I believe are wrong.