Hollywood Weighs in on Fin Reg

Hollywood sign
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images
Hollywood sign

The movie studios are celebrating a ban on box-office futures trading that was included in the final financial reform legislation.

At about 1 am eastern a House-Senate conference committee agreed to adopt the Senate's language banning the trading of derivatives based on box office revenue.

The Motion Picture Association of America has been aggressively lobbying Congress, saying that the futures contracts are akin to gambling and could do major damage to the movie industry.

Bob Pisano, Interim CEO and President of the MPAA, speaking on behalf of the Directors Guild, the National Association of Theater Owners, and the Independent Film alliance among others, issued a statement praising the ban: “We are heartened by the Conference Committee’s actions and look forward to the full House and Senate approving the legislation.”

But earlier this month the Commodities Futures Trading Commission approved the contracts based on box office results proposed by Media Derivatives(aka Variana/Trend Exchange). And on Monday the CFTC was expected to issue similar approval of Cantor Exchange's proposed box office derivative contracts.


So what now?

Media Derivatives CEO Robert Swagger said earlier this week the company's approval deserves to be "grandfathered in," saying that he's willing to take the issue to court to defend his company's $10 million investment in this market. Swagger argues — and is considering arguing in court — that the MPAA and its allies are unfairly blocking competitive activity, violating anti-trust law.

The box office futures ban adopted this morning will make the CFTC's ruling Monday on Cantor Exchange all the more interesting — will it acknowledge that this fin reg legislation trumps its ruling?

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