Antitrust Division's Handling of a Complaint Alleging Antitrust and Decree Violations in the Motion Picture Industry

GGD-79-76: Published: Jun 14, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 1979.

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An inquiry was conducted of the handling by the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, of a complaint which alleged certain restraints of trade imposed on independent theater owners by large motion picture companies. Concern was expressed that the Antitrust Division practice of retaining jurisdiction in Washington over such complaints prevented convenient public access to antitrust authorities.

The complaint, made by an independent theater owner, alleged restraints of trade and violations of outstanding consent decrees within the motion picture industry. According to the Antitrust Division attorney, the subject complaint was one of approximately 50 complaints received each year involving alleged consent decrees violations in the motion picture industry. However, documents further supporting the allegations were needed in order to justify resource commitments by the Division to formally investigate the matter. The Antitrust Division favors state antitrust enforcement of localized violations and is currently administering a 3-year program. The Grant Program to Aid State Antitrust Enforcement provides seed money designed to augment state antitrust enforcement and reflects congressional awareness that greater emphasis at the state level will significantly assist the effectiveness of the federal antitrust program. In certain instances, the Division assists the states' antitrust enforcers by sharing its investigative files and materials upon request and notifying them of any federal action which may entitle them to bring an action for damages.

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