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Govt. mandates 'holdback period' for govt.-funded films

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 9, 2024 - 10:09

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

The culture ministry has recently mandated films receiving government funding must wait a certain period after their silver screen debut before becoming available on IPTVs and streaming platforms.

The so-called holdback period was specified as a condition for new Korean films receiving government funding in a public notice posted on Jan. 31 for the funding program, ministry officials said Friday.

Details of the holdback period have yet to be disclosed. However, officials said the ministry intends to exempt films with a budget of less than 3 billion won ($2.25 million) from the obligation. They also plan to announce the length of the period and other specifics within this month through discussions with relevant industries.

The move comes as the government strives to help revive the local film industry, which has suffered significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Movie theaters have seen a sharp drop in revenue as more people opt to wait a few months to watch new movies on streaming platforms than in theaters these days. Some films are released exclusively on streaming services without theatrical releases.

In an effort to address the crisis facing the film industry, the ministry began a test-run in November of a system mandating that films receiving government funds observe a four-month holdback period with exceptions for films with a budget of less than 3 billion won.

Earlier in the month, Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon expressed his strong desire to introduce the holdback period for Korean films during a press briefing to announce the ministry's plan to develop the Korean video content industry.

The government's move to introduce the new system was met by mixed reactions from the entertainment industry.

While the film industry, including movie theaters, productions, investors and distributors, generally welcomed the plan, streaming services opposed it.

They argue that the system will limit viewers' rights to watch TV dramas and films on streaming platforms on time and at a place of their choice and will primarily benefit major theater chains.

Officials note that enacting a law mandating the holdback period would necessitate consensus from both the film and streaming industries. (Yonhap)