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Archive for Sunday, April 18, 2010

Panel OKs market for movie bets

April 18, 2010

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— U.S. regulators on Friday approved the creation of a futures market for trading in forecast box-office receipts, but major Hollywood studios immediately trumpeted a bill that would ban it.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved the creation of the Trend Exchange, a forum that would allow movie industry participants and speculators to trade on predicted movie revenues.

The exchange still requires the commission’s approval of specific contracts, which would essentially act as presales of ticket revenue. A decision on the contracts is due June 7.

Hollywood is trying to short-circuit that decision, and on Friday called the exchange “an online gaming platform that could be easily manipulated.”

Also Friday, the lobbying arm for the major studios said U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., had included language in a major financial reform bill that would ban futures trading based on movie receipts.

The bill would also prevent a bailout of Wall Street firms who engage in risky derivatives trading and is set to be debated in a committee next week.

The ban was backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Independent Film & Television Alliance.

Veriana Ventures, which proposed the Trend Exchange, said it would press on despite the industry opposition, arguing that smaller studios could benefit because potential film financiers might invest more in movies if they had a mechanism to offset risk.

“How can an exchange that helps create liquidity be criticized when it really helps bring new dollars to an already struggling economic situation?” Veriana CEO Rob Swagger said on a conference call with reporters.

Veriana stands to benefit by charging fees for trades and for managing the exchange.

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