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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Retailers and Studios...Why They All Just Can't Get Along

19 Jan, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

It dawned on me yesterday afternoon, as I was writing a story for Video Store Magazine and Hive4Media.com about the latest furor in the distribution community, this one over Ingram sales pieces somehow winding up in statements for Warner Rental Direct product sent to all retailers, not just Ingram accounts: This business was built on people just not getting along.

The home video industry arose from a furor: the battle between studios and retailers over the right to rent videocassettes. The battle grew so intense that retailers banded together to fight the common enemy, birthing the VSDA.

Early VSDA conventions were marked by contentious exchanges between retailers and studios. The battle over First Sale eventually ended in the retailers' favor, but retailers and studios have been on opposing sides of myriad other issues since.

Recent conventions have been contentious as well, with independents rallying against the big chains they believe are out to destroy their livelihoods -- and blasting the studios for aiding and abetting the enemy.

The big chains are fighting amongst themselves as well. The Blockbuster-Hollywood wars created the revenue-sharing monster that's now tearing at everyone's throats, and the two chains' aggressive quests for market share have seen thousands of independent retailers get caught in the crossfire.

Rentrak last year was torn apart by dissension, with dissident shareholders ousting founder, chairman and longtime industry activist Ron Berger.

Lately, it's been distribution's turn on the front lines. Warner's Rental Direct program and Universal's paring down of its distribution network turned brother against brother, the have's against the have-not's.

Everywhere you look, there's dissension, disagreement, people bitching and complaining and just not getting along.

And they call us a "mature" industry!

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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