A recent inspection found that 17 of Taipei’s 34 cinemas imposed unreasonable bans on foods purchased outside the movie theaters, the city government said yesterday, urging the cinemas to relax the bans to avoid a fine of up to NT$1.5 million (US$50,000).
Regulations issued by the Executive Yuan’s Government Information Office (GIO) stated that cinemas should not ban food purchases from outside, with the exception of food considered a choking threat and food that is too spicy or pungent.
A recent inspection conducted by the city government’s Law and Regulation Commission found that the 17 cinemas, including major cinemas such as Ambassador Theaters and Vieshow Cinemas, had an overly long list of banned foods, and violated the regulations by exaggerating the definition of the ban.
“The Ambassador Theater in the Breeze Center, for example, banned moviegoers from taking submarine sandwiches into the theater when it sells submarine sandwiches in the cinema. The ban is unreasonable and unfriendly to its customers,” Law and Regulation Commission director Yeh -Ching-yuan (葉慶元) said.
In addition to unreasonably prohibiting moviegoers from eating hamburgers or French fries, or bringing soft drinks into movie theaters when it sells those items, the cinemas also abused the regulations by banning food such as potato chips and fruits, he said.
Of the 17 cinemas that imposed unreasonable bans on food items, Ambassador Theaters and Vieshow Cinemas had the longest lists of banned foods, prohibiting moviegoers from bringing in 37 and 43 kinds of food respectively.
Banned food items in other cinemas that seemed questionable included “canned or bottled drinks” and “hot food,” according to the commission.
“The list could cause confusion and force moviegoers to purchase food inside the cinemas instead,” Yeh said.
The regulations issued by the GIO also stipulate that cinemas cannot prohibit moviegoers from consuming food sold by the theater itself or charge a clean-up fee for those who bring their own food.
The commission has issued notices to those cinemas and demanded they improve the situation within 15 days. Cinemas that fail to do so violate the Consumer Protection Law (消費者保護法) and face a fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$1.5 million, he added.