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Universal Pulls Out of VSDA Convention

29 Apr, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Universal Studios Home Video will not participate in the annual home entertainment convention this July, Video Store Magazine has learned.

The studio issued a statement indicating it can best reach its customers through “direct, customized interaction” rather than through the convention route of suites, floor space and event sponsorship.

“While VSDA remains an integral part of our industry Universal Studios Home Video's overall strategic plans are diverging from those served by VSDA's annual convention and are more appropriately served by more direct customized interaction with its membership,” the studio said through a spokeswoman.

Sources say the studio may even decide to pull its membership in the organization.

VSDA chairman Tom Warren, in Los Angeles for studio meetings this week, said, “I feel certain the door's open” on membership renewal. “We have an ongoing dialog with Universal and all other VSDA members about the value of their ongoing VSDA membership.”

He intended to meet with Universal executives this week, but scheduling conflicts prevented a meeting. In studio meetings generally held each quarter, Warren said Universal and other studios emphasized the importance of VSDA's research and legislative efforts.

“People always want to know why should I spend $100,000 on a cocktail party when I'm not going to sell them another copy of a movie, but that's something they have to decide, that's nothing wrong with VSDA,” he said. This year's convention is “ahead of target projections” and nearly all of the suites have been sold, he added.

Warren declined to provide the annual dues that Universal pays to the association, which he says are based on a percentage of sales and cannot be disclosed. Overall, however, studios, distributors and public chains pay nearly $1 million in annual dues to VSDA, he said.

A source familiar with the situation said Universal's dues alone amount to nearly $300,000.

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