LF Examiner’s Statement to the GSCA Board

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Originally published in the March 2009 issue.

In the Feb. 25 joint communiqué with GSCA, Imax Corporation expressed concerns about the presence of media in the GSCA’s members’ meetings, and asked for clarification of the GSCA’s policies. As one of the GSCA members most likely to be affected by any change of policy in this respect, I appreciate being given the opportunity to present this statement to the Board.

I will pass briefly over the obvious futility, in this age of tweeting, texting, cell phone cameras, and digital recorders, of expecting to keep secret anything that is said or shown to several hundred people in a large meeting. I will also not dwell on the problem of how association members who couldn’t attend a conference would learn of Imax’s “strategies and corporate initiatives,” or the restrictions on GSCA’s communication with its own members that would be implicit in the kind of policy that Imax appears to be proposing.

Instead I will address Imax’s apparent concerns. I say “apparent” because the company has declined to answer any of the questions I posed that might have clarified their position.

Point 9 of the communiqué says, in its entirety:

“Imax would like clarification on the admission to the media at these meetings. Imax wishes to present strategies and corporate initiatives in a candid manner to GSCA members and cannot do that if media then reports this widely to the trades.

“Clarification is required by GSCA. If media, including media who are members of GSCA, is allowed to attend, then Imax will need to re-think the type and style of candidness it can offer at this meeting.”

The company says it wants to present apparently sensitive information at the meetings, and implies that some harm would be done if that information were subsequently reported in the “trades.” It implies that if the GSCA doesn’t bar media from the meetings, members will be denied the company’s full candor.

In short, Imax appears to be asking the GSCA to establish a policy that would restrict certain information to those who happen to attend the members’ meetings, and would also exclude (or gag) journalists, including those who happen to be GSCA members. The company doesn’t describe the nature of this information, or what makes it so sensitive. It doesn’t say how it differs from what is already publicly available from the company or other sources. It doesn’t explain what benefit having this information would convey to members, or what harm its wider disclosure would cause. It doesn’t describe how it would propose to restrict members or the GSCA itself from disseminating the information to the media after the meeting.

The proposal and its justification are extremely vague and nebulous and its practicality is doubtful at best. It is Imax, not GSCA, that needs to provide clarification.

Imax Corporation has the means to address its affiliates — and anyone else in the industry— directly, through e-mail, its Web site, and any number of other channels. It is highly inappropriate for the company to ask GSCA, whose primary function is to facilitate communication among its members, to help it restrict the flow of information.

Obviously, it is my position that all media — whether members of GSCA or not — should continue to be welcomed into the GSCA’s members’ meeting, and that the association should do nothing to restrict the openness and transparency of its activities.

I thank the board for its consideration.

James Hyder
LF Examiner

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