Miramar Cinema’s on-going ban on outside food blatantly disregards regulations previously promulgated by the now-dissolved Government Information Office (GIO), so it will be fined NT$60,000 for non-compliance, the Taipei City Department of Information and Tourism said yesterday.
In February 2010, the GIO announced that while cinemas and theaters may not prohibit customers from bringing outside food onto cinema grounds, they can prohibit foods with overbearing odors, hot soup, or drinks or foods that are too crunchy and loud, provided all such restrictions are noted on the premises.
The department said it recently found after browsing Miramar Web sites that the Royal Club of the Tai Mao Miramar in Taoyuan and the M Club — comprising four theaters — in the Miramar cinema in Taipei’s Dazhi District (大直) contravened the GIO announcement by completely banning outside food and requiring viewers to buy food strictly within the cinema.
That infringes on consumers’ rights, administrative section chief Yeh Huan-heui (葉煥輝) said.
Yeh said the Dazhi Miramar changed its regulations in March and April after it was warned, opening the six theaters on the sixth floor to outside food, but maintaining the ban on outside food in the M Club on the eighth floor, which offered mainly drinks, such as coffee, soft drinks or beer.
The Miramar management said that differing regulations on the two floors offered consumers freedom of choice, adding that the cinema had no intention of abolishing the ban on the eighth floor due to its exclusive dining area and a bar close to the auditorium entrance.
Each cinema has its own mode of operation, Miramar sales executive assistant general manager Shih Yu-lin (史玉琳) said in a statement, but declined to answer questions.
However, Yeh said that all cinemas must adhere to the proscribed regulations and there cannot be any exceptions, saying that the cinema’s actions willfully violate the city government’s Self Administered Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護自治條例).
According to Article 8 of the act, corporations using standard form contracts may not violate items or articles officially announced by the central government. Article 38 of the act also says violation of Article 8 may result in fines of between NT$20,000 and NT$100,000, and further fines.
Because the GIO was part of the central government, its announcement in 2010 effectively set the parameters of what may be set on the standard form contracts, and after being given time to reverse its policies, the city government feels that the Miramar Cinema is willfully violating the law, hence it has raised the original fine from NT$20,000 to NT$60,000, Yeh said.
Yeh added that 10 cinemas within the Taipei area still have unreasonable bans on certain foods, including French fries, chips, hamburgers, apple pies, hot xian cao (仙草) or grass jelly, and drinks in glass bottles.
Yeh said the city government would issue official notices to the cinemas next week asking them to make improvements within 15 days. Should the cinemas refuse or fail to make sufficient improvements, they may face another NT$20,000 in fines, he added.
Consumers’ Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) lauded the Taipei City Government’s actions as she called for other city and county governments to enforce the regulation against unreasonable cinema food bans.
Additional reporting by Tsai Po-chieh