Huppert wins backing of Leader of the House in Picturehouse fight

10 October, 2013 4 Comments

The Leader of the House of Commons has backed Julian in his attack on the Competition Commission’s ruling on Cambridge’s Arts Picturehouse.
When Julian raised this issue in the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, responding for the government, told Julian that he agreed with him that the Commission had no place in intervening over the ownership of the cinema.
He said in the Commons today (Thursday, October 10) that he did not “for one minute” think that the Arts Picturehouse was in the same market as other multiplexes in the centre of Cambridge.

“The Competition Commission’s job is to identify markets and act to restrict monopoly in the markets it identifies,” he said. “I do not think this is the same market.”

Julian had told Mr Lansley that “the Competition Commission had previously refused to act on the near complete monopoly by Stagecoach on bus services in Cambridge or of Tesco’s dominance in the grocery market in Cambridge  but is acting on a case where not only are the public concerned but thousands have signed a petition against the Competition Commission’s decision”.

He called for a debate on whether the Competition Commission should focus on real local monopolies and “leave the Arts Picturehouse alone.”

Mr Lansley told him: “I feel the point he makes is a good one. Speaking purely personally and not for the government, I share with him his view that there is no case for the Competition Commission to seek to intervene in the ownership of the Arts Picturehouse.”

Julian said later: “I am delighted that the Leader of the House agrees with me that the Competition Commission has acted outside its jurisdiction over the Arts Picturehouse.

“I hope that it will now listen to the concerns of thousands of people who have signed the petition and the Leader of the House and think again on this issue. Mr Lansley has rightly identified that the Picturehouse is not the same as multiplexes and should not be treated as such.”

Leave a comment

  • K Bird: October 10, 2013 6:23 pm

    Thanks for raising this important issue in the House today. I have no idea how the Commission could lump the Arts Picturehouse in with Cineworld. The latter may own it, but in the same way that a hedge fund or other disinterested party might do so. Both business show films, but that’s all they have in common.

    The Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge is much more than a cinema – it’s the city’s leading social hub for all its communities, young and old. Schools and colleges use it for educational purposes, many people just go to the cafe to meet friends. No-one does that at Cineworld or Vue. Cambridge has many museums all with a similar role, but we don’t call that a monopoly and insist on the closure of the Fitzwilliam.

    I hope the Commission considers the appeal of my fellow Cambridge citizens. We love our Arts Picturehouse! If this was a monopoly situation, why was Cineworld allowed to buy the chain in the first place?

  • Karin Lang: October 11, 2013 3:51 pm

    thank you Julian, very impressed by the time and energy you put into this,despite a busy schedule. Arts supporters very much appreciate your quick and thoughtful approachputting this cause before Parliament.

  • Rebecca: October 11, 2013 8:21 pm

    Thanks to both Julian Huppert and Andrew Lansley for raising this issue in the House of Commons which has caused great concern for the thousands of people who love the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge. What happens next though? The decision by the Competition Commission is flawed as Mark Liversidge (who started the original petition to the Competition Commission) has confirmed on his excellent blog:

    1) All of the research showed a clear differentiation in the market between arthouse / independent and multiplex cinemas, which if considered would have negated the findings.
    2) The findings of the Competition Commission were based on a flawed assumption of a single ticket price and incorrectly excluded membership schemes. The surveys on which they based their findings excluded these and are therefore fatally flawed.
    3) There is still a level of competition at least at the national average in these areas following the takeover, so there is no requirement to increase competition further in these areas.

    Does this mean that the Competition Commission should be forced to re-consider their decision?

  • THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY): October 11, 2013 9:50 pm

    Thank you, Julian Huppert, thank you !

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