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Screen quotas is a legislated policy that enforces a minimum number of screening days of domestic films in the theater each year to protect the nation’s films. The screen quota system is enforced to prevent foreign markets from making inroads into the domestic film market. The screen quota system was started in the United Kingdom in 1927. Other countries enforcing quotas include France, South Korea, Brazil, Pakistan and Italy.

Screen quotas in South Korea

The screen quota system has been in force in South Korea since 1967. The system is:

  • screening more than 6 Korean films each year and more than 90 screening days each year (1966)
  • screening more than 3 Korean films each year and more than 30 screening days each year (1970)
  • more than 1/3 of screening days each year (1973)
  • more than 2/5 of screening days each year and reciprocal screening of Korean and foreign films in cities of more than three hundred thousand of population (1985)

In South Korea, the screen quota has contributed to the rapid increase in the film market. Until the 1990s, the Korean film market had lacked the ability to raise capital funds for films. The quality of Korean films has increased dramatically, with an inflow of capital funds into South Korean film market since 2000. The government has decided to reduce its 40-year-old screen quotas from 146 days to 73 days in 2006. As a result of the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States, which was agreed on April 2, 2007, the screen quotas in South Korea will not be subject to change from the current 73 days.

Analysis

  • Argument for
The recent decision of the South Korean government to reduce the screen quotas system was due to heavy pressure from the U.S.A. trade negotiators after the talks between South Korea and United States for Free Trade Agreement FTA. The example of Mexico shows the fatal result of the ending of the screen quota system. Mexico enforced the screen quota system to prevent being swallowed up by inflow from Hollywood, but repealed the system under pressure from the United States in 1994 when Mexico made the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with U.S. As a result, the film industry in Mexico has totally collapsed in the 10 years following the establishment of NAFTA. Mexico once produced more than 100 films a year until 1994, but only four films were produced in a year after the collapse of Mexico's film industry.
  • Arguments against
According to the opponents of the quota system, the domestic film makers have mass produced low quality films to meet the screen quota system. As the result, the system leads to the waste of money and human resources and it is most important to strengthen the competitiveness of domestic film under the competitive atmosphere.

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