Oslo cinemas up for sale

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Political debate is flying after the Conservative-ruled city government in Oslo proposed selling off Oslo Kino, the publicly owned entity that runs the capital’s cinemas. Opposition parties fear privatization will result in cost-cutting that will reduce quality.

Cinema customers in Oslo are now able to reserve seats and buy tickets in advance, buy a glass of wine or fancy coffees at many cinemas and settle into high-backed seats outfitted with small tables. There’s generally a wide selection of both Norwegian and foreign films on offer. Ticket prices now run around NOK 90-100 (USD 17), less for children, students and retirees.

The Conservatives insist quality would further improve if the government gets out of the cinema business, and that private players will be better able to keep up with emerging technology. Opposition politicians disagree, fearing Norwegian and other films that appeal to a narrower audience will be sacrificed in favour of those drawing larger crowds. They fear private operators will be far more motivated by profit than quality.

A sale is by no means assured. The opposition parties may drum up enough support to block it, while city officials themselves say they’ll demand a high price and are in no hurry to sell. They also claim city officials can maintain control, by selling the cinemas through a concession basis.

Views and News staff