Tags: Chris Dodd | MPAA | motion picture | challenges

Chris Dodd Finding the Film Industry Can Be as Tough as Congress

Image: Chris Dodd Finding the Film Industry Can Be as Tough as Congress
Chairman, CEO of the MPAA, and former Senator Chris Dodd. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 12:22 PM

Former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is leading the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) while the industry is challenged by a growing technological disruption.

Dodd replaced Jack Valenti, who was recruited to be the chief lobbyist for Hollywood by six major studios, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Those studios must now compete with Web-based programming from companies like Netflix and Amazon, which puts Dodd and the MPAA in the position of having to retool the mission of the trade group.

The MPAA board is made up of studio executives from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., Disney and 20th Century Fox, who often don't agree. The organization also needs money and influence in the tech industry.

"One could easily expect multimillion-dollar movie studios headed by a former U.S. senator to be highly impactful in Washington," said David Goodfriend, a lawyer and lobbyist who has dealt with Hollywood studios on copyright issues.

"Certainly the Motion Picture Association has an impact, but not nearly as much as they could," Goodfriend said.

The MPAA found itself in a fight against Google and Facebook when it was advocating for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which the Internet companies feared would also affect legitimate websites.

Following the cyberattack Sony faced recently, Dodd was planning a letter to show solidarity from other studios, but he failed to get all the studio executives on board.

Sony Chairman Michael Lynton almost withdrew from the MPAA, saying that the trade group was becoming out of touch and losing its effectiveness, sources said. However, he changed his mind after meeting with the former Democratic senator.

However, the situation led the MPAA board to say it should consider changing the practice of needing a consensus to make a decision.

The problem, one studio executive told the Times, is that "everybody has a different agenda and a different way of doing things."

The MPAA mostly stayed out of the recent debate over net neutrality. Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, came out against it, but other media companies didn't voice an opinion.

While Dodd's contract will be up in 2016, he will likely keep his post.

Studio executives say that he has been effective at increasing state tax credits for filmmakers, as well as getting China to let Hollywood bring more movies into the Asian country.

His largest obstacle is remaking the mission of MPAA and whether it should include media companies, such as Netflix, as it seeks to adapt with the changing industry.

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Former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is leading the Motion Picture Association of America while the industry is challenged by a growing technological disruption.
Chris Dodd, MPAA, motion picture, challenges
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2015-22-17
Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 12:22 PM
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