Theatre owners in Andhra Pradesh are upset after the government crackdown on ticket and refreshment prices. They say the action that comes after the theatres resumed operations after Covid lockdown is eating into their profits.
A look at the controversy over cinema theatre ticket prices and how theatre owners are reacting to it
What is the controversy regarding cinema theatre ticket prices in Andhra Pradesh?
Several theatre owners across the state have shut down saying it is unviable for them to operate after the state government fixed the prices of tickets. On April 8, the state government had issued an order fixing the rates for multiplexes, AC, and non-AC theatres. The theatre owners say that with these prices it is not profitable for them to run the theatres, especially after suffering huge losses during the lockdown. Cinematography Minister P Venkataramaih said the government wants to make tickets affordable and ensure that theatres do not overcharge or exploit people as per their whims. He said ticket prices soar when big movies are released.
What are the prices fixed by the government?
The April 8 government order (GO 35) fixed slabs for tickets in cinemas in municipal corporation, municipality, nagar panchayat, and gram panchayat areas. The government fixed the prices under economy, deluxe, and premium classes for multiplexes, AC theatres, and non-AC theatres. At multiplexes in municipal corporation areas, the minimum ticket price is Rs 75 and maximum Rs 250. In AC and non-AC theatres the prices range from Rs 20 to Rs 100. In gram panchayat areas, the economy class ticket prices have been fixed at Rs 5 in non-AC theatres. The GO also states that the maximum retail price of any item should not be raised while selling refreshments to the customers. Free drinking water and clean restrooms must be provided, the GO states, and asked theatre owners to make provision for online ticketing. The state government wants to launch a portal for the online ticketing system.
Owners of approximately 950 theatres in the state expressed displeasure over the fixing of ticket prices. The AP Cine Exhibitors Association said the government should not interfere in fixing movie ticket prices. They also said it was unfair to fix prices according to areas and class of the theatres. AC and non-AC theatre owners said to match facilities offered by multiplexes, they too have modified their theatres and are offering a variety of services so they should be allowed to fix their own prices.
What happened after the order was issued?
Several theatre owners filed petitions and the AP High Court directed the state government to set up a committee comprising all stakeholders to decide on the price of tickets. However, as the state government did not comply, the HC suspended the GO on December 14. However, citing malpractices and operating without renewing licences, theatres in several districts were raided or sealed by the government. Several top actors, directors, and film industry leaders condemned the move and requested the state government to reconsider the fixing of ticket prices. On December 28, the state government set up a committee comprising all stakeholders to decide on the prices. Film industry stalwarts have sought an appointment with Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to discuss the issue.
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