Cinemas may buy cellphone jammers

Cellphone jammers could be introduced in New Zealand cinemas to stop texters and cellphones ringing.

The Motion Pictures Exhibitors Association is looking into the legality of using jammers because of the disruption from cellphones when films screen.

Association executive member Duncan Mackenzie said he was investigating the use of jammers in the 200-member group's cinemas around the country.

The jammers, which would be imported, cost between $500 and $1200 and work by transmitting radio signals on the same frequencies as cellphones.

Cellphones in cinemas were a "huge disruption" to patrons, Mr Mackenzie said.

"Even texting creates so much light, and it's unfair to expect that people should have to put up with it."

Though many felt teenagers were the worst offenders, Mr Mackenzie said they were the most co-operative about turning phones off.

He said the most antagonistic cellphone users he saw were middle aged women who answered their cellphones in cinemas and continued conversations.

They would get "incredibly aggro" if asked to turn their cellphones off or leave.

Mr Mackenzie said "cellphone rage" between patrons could get nasty.

He had to defuse an incident in Blenheim last year when a man threatened to hit two exchange students sitting on opposite sides of the cinema who were texting each other.

Vodafone has expressed concerns in the past that jammers would block signals for legitimate customers living nearby.

But Mr Mackenzie said the equipment the association was looking at would not operate outside the four walls where it was installed.

People on call for emergencies could leave their cellphones or pagers at the reception area, he said.



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