841.4061 Motion Pictures/91: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson)

13. Mr. Will Hays6 has, at our request, submitted a list of what the Industry considers would approximate the minimum needs of the Industry in so far as the pending British legislation is concerned. The list does not however represent the treatment which the Industry feels it is justified in expecting. The list is as follows:

The requirement of the quota of British films to be limited to a percentage of the number, not the total footage, of foreign feature (long) films for both renters and exhibitors. Such percentage for the first year of the new Quota Act (April 1, 1938) should be 10 percent and under no circumstances to exceed 12½ percent, and to be rateably decreased each year thereafter until completely eliminated.
The quota requirement for renters not to exceed the quota requirement for exhibitors.
Each quota film to be available for use by both renter and exhibitor for quota requirements.
The cost test for all quota films to be determined upon a cost-per-foot basis; and there is to be no Viewing Test or other quality test except that based on cost-per-foot basis.
The following credits for renters’ and for exhibitors’ quotas to be given:
Credit for labor costs when the amount expended is £1 per foot.
Credits for labor costs when the amount expended is £3 per foot.
Credits for labor costs when the amount expended is £4 or more.
One quota credit to be given for each British nonquota film acquired for distribution in any one country foreign to the British Empire, for not less than £10,000.
One quota credit in addition to the renter’s multiple credit provided for in (5) above to be given the renter for each quota film produced or acquired for world distribution and costing not less than £4 per foot in labor costs.
Quota credits to be freely transferable.
A restatement of the definition of a British film to be made to permit the employment of a larger percentage of non-British technical employees until such time as there are readily available for employment in the production of quota films a sufficient number of trained and experienced technicians of British citizenship. Accordingly, the cost of at least four non-British technicians in accepted categories to be deducted from the total cost of a quota film before computing the 75 percent British and 25 percent other foreign categories, this being an extension of the present terms of subsection 1, clause 25 of the Quota Bill.
The quota reduction granted exhibitors under the present Act until the expiration thereof to be granted renters, or the current Act to be extended for a year from the date now provided for its expiration.
There is to be no “Control Commission”. The new Quota Act to provide that no revisions may be made by any board, commission, or committee which will result in any increase in the number of quota films required, or in any increase in the prescribed amount of labor costs, or in the minimum sum payable for foreign rights of any quota film.
There should be no quota for short films, but if there be one, it should be equal for exhibitors and for renters without any quality tests.
For offenses under the new Quota Act for which an exhibitor is equally at fault with a renter, both the exhibitor and the renter to be responsible.
The definition of British films to include the statement that if the films are photographed, excepting background shots, in His Majesty’s dominions, such films to be treated as British films.

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Please report by telegram your comments on each of these points and your own estimate of the possibility that the ultimate legislation will conform to the above points.

  1. President, Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc.