Movie Theaters' Top Lobbyist Resorts To Making Up Facts Concerning SOPA/PIPA
from the oh-please dept
NATO’s Fithian said he had never witnessed such a reversal in momentum considering the legislation’s passage seemed all but assured in October. "This was the most amazing turnaround of public opinion in the 25 years I’ve been a professional lobbyist. We were up there since Day One and took 25 of my [exhibitor] CEOs and met with 50 members of Congress. We asked each member of Congress if there was anything they need to make the legislation clear and nobody said anything. Google read the legislation at the same time and didn’t say a word. But in November the greatest backlash ever occurred."First of all, Google had been complaining publicly about the bill since it was introduced in the Senate back in May. For Fithian to claim that the company had no complaints in October is simply laughable. As for questions from legislators, the fact that they didn't have any questions isn't a point in your favor, it's a sign of just how corrupt the system is. When Hollywood hands them a bill, they don't bother taking the time to understand it until after the public speaks out on it.
Fithian went on, "The backlash occurred, Google made its point, they’re big and tough and we get it. Hopefully now reasonable minds will prevail. Senator Dodd and his team are quite good at this. We’ll sit down with them and ask what has to be done to make legislation more narrowly tailored...."And here's the sign that they really just don't get it. They still think that this was all Google. While Google did speak out publicly against the bill early, it had almost nothing to do with the protests that erupted last week, and only jumped on board very late in the game. You wouldn't believe how much complaining there was in various online communities about just how little Google was doing to fight this bill. The idea that this was driven by Google is laughable to anyone who was involved in these events. 14 million people spoke up about this bill. That wasn't Google. That was the wider internet. Pretending that this was Google flexing its muscles shows that this is someone who still isn't paying attention.
"But the reality is we have to stop these rogue websites. They’re stealing jobs from my members. It’s not Senator Dodd’s big wealthy studio executives, it's the 160,000 Americans who earn on average $11 an hour at my cinemas. Those are the jobs at stake.”Almost nothing in this statement is true. As we discussed recently, employment at theaters has been dropping rapidly over the last decade. It peaked in 2003, but has steadily trended downward since then. Over that same time period, however, box office revenue has continue to rise at a pretty significant clip, setting new records almost every year until 2011, when it finally took a slight dip -- which many people attribute more to the crappy experience at theaters. You know why there might be a crappy experience? Because the theater owners that Fithian represents consolidated, built up giant, impersonal multiplexes, and then completely understaffed them.
Furthermore, $11/hour is hardly a living wage these days, and a large percentage of folks working at movie theaters aren't full time/lifetime employees, but high school kids looking to earn some extra beer money.
Either way, there is simply no evidence -- at all -- that "foreign rogue sites" have had any impact whatsoever on theater employment. As theater revenue continued to go up and up and up, theaters were firing more and more employees in an effort to cost-cut. Even the MPAA folks have repeatedly claimed that infringement has little to do with theater revenue and is almost entirely (in their minds) about in-home revenue (the same revenue stream the MPAA wanted to kill off 30 years ago in the Betamax case).
So it's difficult to see how anyone can take Fithian/NATO seriously. He claims that it was just Google. It was not. He references jobs in theaters, which have nothing to do with any of this. He claims that Google wasn't concerned about the bill. Is he saying anything that is backed up by fact? Well, perhaps the bit about our elected officials being too clueless/unconcerned to actually understand the bill that Hollywood handed them. That part is believable...
Amusingly, in another article about the same panel, it mentions that even Fithian's son was against him on this issue, and agreed with the anti-SOPA/PIPA folks. Also, it shows the real thinking on Fithian's part. It's not "piracy" he's concerned with, it's any form of competition whatsoever. Apparently during a discussion on the best way to compete with infringement, some people suggested the studios supplying "more content in new, affordable avenues to undercut the temptation to" infringe. Not only does that seem reasonable, but it's the only thing that's actually been proven (repeatedly) to work. But Fithian dismisses anything that would compete with theaters -- mocking both Netflix and Redbox as "bad business models." In other words, Fithian is making up anything he can... solely to act as protectionist as possible for a bunch of theater owners who don't want to adapt or compete. Perhaps he should take a lesson from the MPAA: being obstructionist against innovation is not a strategy for success.