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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 11:31 GMT
Sony fined over fake reviews
A Knight's Tale
A Knight's Tale: One of the films boosted by fake reviews
Film studio Sony Pictures, which admitted to faking reviews of its own films, has agreed to pay $325,000 (230,000) in fines to the US state of Connecticut.

Sony also agreed to stop inventing film reviews, and to stop using advertisements in which Sony employees pose as moviegoers praising their films, said Connecticut's attorney general Richard Blumenthal.

We're pleased to have the matter resolved

Sony Pictures
The state launched an investigation into Sony Pictures' activities in June 2001 - after reports that it had attributed favourable film reviews to a small Connecticut newspaper, The Ridgefield Press.

The reviews were invented and the weekly paper was unaware that its name was being used.

The reviews were said to be by film critic David Manning, and the quotations used praised Sony movies including A Knight's Tale and The Animal.

"What Sony did was like having a chef pose as a food critic and then give his own restaurant four stars," said James Fleming, the state's consumer protection commissioner.

Cinema audience
Other studios have admitted faking movie reviews
Sony admitted fabricating the reviews in June 2001 after a Newsweek magazine investigation.

On Tuesday the studio's spokeswoman Susan Tick said: "We're pleased to have the matter resolved."

Attorney general Richard Blumenthal said: "These deceptive ads deserve two thumbs down - and now are getting a third from Sony itself."

The company has said that it stopped the practice after the fabrications came to light in 2001 - but maintained that other studios did the same.

Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Artisan Entertainment all subsequently admitted to using employees or actors in TV commercials purporting to feature testimonials from film-goers.

See also:

20 Jun 01 | Film
'Fake fan' for Waking Ned
18 Jun 01 | Film
Sony admits fake fans on ad
07 Jun 01 | Film
Inquiry into fake film critic
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