More power to the Nine Network’s A Current Affair after they had a go at the Hoyts Cinema chain, half-owned by PBL, in a report on the high cost of going to the movies. ACA mentioned Hoyts in a report last night that made it clear the major cinema chains charge like wounded bulls for their drinks, popcorn and choc top ice creams, not to mention the actual movie tickets.

The ACA story was broadcast from Perth, an irony given that the other Hoyts shareholder, West Australian newspapers, is based there and WA is one of the growth areas targeted for Hoyts. Hoyts Chatswood in Sydney and in Brisbane (the Regent) were listed among the most expensive cinemas for tickets and treats.

What the report made clear is how cheap the independents like the Randwick Ritz in Sydney and the Waverley in Melbourne were, compared to Hoyts and its rival Greater Union. All this poor publicity makes it harder for PBL to drive returns from the expensive purchase of half of Hoyts. It cost PBL around $173 million in extra shares placed with the Packer private company (Consolidated Press). West Australian newspapers paid Cons Press $173 million in cash.

Peter Fray

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