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More Tiered Pricing in U.K.

3 Jul, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

More major studios are implementing tiered pricing on product released in the United Kingdom.

According to reports from the U.K., Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Video will begin requiring U.K. rental dealers to pay a premium for VHS and DVD titles as they are released simultaneously into the sales market at a lower price for sellthrough retailers.

Columbia TriStar's new terms begin with the Sept. 8 release of Maid in Manhattan, British trade magazine Home Entertainment Week reported. Columbia did not announce an overall pricing strategy, but press releases for other upcoming titles tagged VHS and DVD rental-copy prices at £30 (about $50) -- more than twice the price of sellthrough copies, HEW reported.

Paramount's first tiered-pricing release, Star Trek: Nemesis, streets Aug. 11 in the region and will cost rental dealers £45 (about $75) each for both formats, while sellthrough retailers will pay £13.61 ($22.65) for DVD and £10.21 ($16.99) on VHS, according to HEW.

Universal has bumped the release of the Rowan Atkinson comedy Johnny English, already airing in U.K. theaters, from October to Aug. 11, giving it a short four-month theatrical window in the region. Johnny English will fall under similar terms as the ones Paramount and Columbia TriStar are instituting this summer, according to HEW. Neither Paramount nor Universal have announced whether their entire future slates will get the same treatment. New pricing terms popping up among suppliers began last summer, when Warner Home Video launched its tiered pricing on all its VHS and DVD product in the U.K.

Since then, retailers have complained to England's Office of Fair Trading about the pricing strategy. Some are hopeful that a new law implemented last month -- The Enterprise Act -- could combat tiered pricing. The Enterprise Act gives England's Office of Fair Trading rights to probe and prosecute companies and officials suspected of cartel-like market-fixing.

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