Yesterday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission okayed box office betting, and the entire entertainment industry came out in favor of banning this decision. Here are the two press releases that were released yesterday opposing the different sides of this groundbreaking story:
U.S. Trading Commission Okays Box Office Betting:
Media Derivatives ("MDEX") is pleased to announce that it has received approval from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") as a designated contract market. Media Derivatives will operate under the name The Trend Exchange® ("TrendEx"). TrendEx is the first new exchange to offer innovative products that has been approved since 2004 and one of only 7 US based commodities exchanges. TrendEx is primarily focused on the development of a variety of products to benefit the entertainment industry with one if its initially proposed products being designed to help mitigate risk and enhance the successful financing of motion pictures through trading of opening weekend domestic box office receipts. TrendEx, like other CFTC approved exchanges, will consider other products to offer beyond those of just the media industry.
Founder and CEO Robert S. Swagger said The Trend Exchange welcomes collaboration from all segments of the entertainment industry in the development of market-based products that provide maximum risk management potential for the participants. Launch of the exchange's first products is anticipated in the third quarter.
"Like all Americans, we cherish the entertainment industry," Mr. Swagger said. "We believe that our products, designed in partnership with the broad industry constituency, will help better manage economic uncertainty and financial volatility, thus enhancing opportunities for success."
Swagger added: "The recent attention to our initially proposed product is normal and healthy. Historically, initial product skeptics have eventually become the greatest adopters through a process of time, education and communication that demonstrates the many benefits of futures market for the US Economy. Now that our exchange is approved, we will resume the work we've been doing throughout the entertainment industry."
By designing its products for institutional traders and commercial users, TrendEx intends to fulfill critical financing needs. Historically production companies have had no effective way to minimize the risk of producing major motion pictures, which cost on average $107 million per title.
"The Trend Exchange will fulfill this crucial risk-management need by utilizing the time-tested exchange-traded futures market model that has served agriculture, industry and commerce in America for nearly two centuries," Swagger said. "The regulatory review and oversight of the CFTC is rigorous - and necessary to inform and protect all participants in these markets. We look forward to working collaboratively with all parties to set the highest standards for these new risk-mitigation markets. Furthermore, we wish to thank the CFTC Chairman, Commissioners and staff for the countless hours of hard work and dedication throughout this process."
The Trend Exchange is privately funded by Veriana (www.veriana.com ) and is in discussions with several key industry participants regarding what it deems as possible strategic partnerships. The company's directors and advisors include prominent members of the entertainment and financial services industries. In addition, the exchange's senior management is comprised of many well known professionals from the Chicago futures and options exchange community. The Trend Exchange's corporate offices are located in Scottsdale, AZ with exchange operations office in Chicago.
The Entertainment Community Praises Proposed Ban on On-Line Wgering:
Coalition of creators, talent, craftspeople, independent production and distribution companies, industry workers and theater owners welcome efforts to prevent betting on box-office futures.
Washington, DC - An entertainment industry coalition including creators, independent producers and distributors, business organizations and theater owners today praised a legislative provision that would prevent online motion picture box-office wagering.
The measure, contained in financial reform legislation unveiled today by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) would bar futures trading based on box-office receipts. As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Lincoln oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
"As Congress moves forward with financial regulatory reform, we are very grateful to Chairman Lincoln for seeking to put a stop to plans to allow wagering on box-office futures, which are based on a faulty understanding of the film business and could cause real financial harm to both the film industry and other Americans drawn in by an online gaming platform that could be easily manipulated," the group said.
Earlier today, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its member companies and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) urged the CFTC to deny a request from Cantor Futures Exchange L.P. to create a designated contract market for the trading of financial derivatives based on film futures.
The same coalition had earlier urged the CFTC to reject a separate proposal by Media Derivatives, Inc. (MDEX) to establish a designated contract marketplace. But the CFTC today approved that proposal, which was the first of two major regulatory steps needed before the company can conduct online wagering on film futures.
"We note that in making their decision, a majority of the commissioners raised the same concerns that we have about the contracts themselves, concerns related to whether they can be manipulated, whether they serve a true hedging purpose, and questions about whether the contracts should be approved," the group said.
"Our coalition of film industry workers, creators, independent producers and distributors, business organizations and theater owners, remains united in our opposition to a risky plan that would be detrimental to the motion picture industry and the 2.4 million Americans whose livelihoods are based on this industry.
"We believe that the Commission has ample discretion under the law to reject this proposal by Media Derivatives Inc., so we are disappointed that the CFTC has said the company can establish a designated contract marketplace.
"This is just one in a series of upcoming regulatory steps, including requirements to have prior approval from the CFTC before these questionable contracts can actually begin trading. We intend to continue to urge the CFTC to reject both the proposal from Media Derivatives to offer a box-office wagering service on its online marketplace, and a separate proposal that remains pending by Cantor Futures Exchange L.P. that would essentially allow real betting on what previously has been an online make-believe box-office gaming site.
"After the fiscal meltdown from which our country is still struggling to emerge, we have seen the danger of abusive financial practices. Now is the time to strengthen and stabilize our financial system, not the time to open the floodgates on an untested, and unwanted plan that could cause serious harm to an important American industry and its workers."