CCI Dismisses Complaint Against Local Movie Theatres Of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

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New Delhi: Fair trade regulator CCI has dismissed a complaint alleging unfair trade practices against local movie theatres based in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, saying collective dominance is a concept not recognized by the Indian competition regime so far.

The order came on a complaint filed by Ashok Kumar Vallabhaneni, distributor of movies dubbed in Telugu language. He stated that he had purchased the distribution and exhibition rights for the dubbed version of Tamil movie “Petta” in Telugu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana whose release was scheduled in January 2019.

He alleged that due to cartelization among the local theatres, sufficient number of screens as requested by him were not provided for the screening of ‘Petta’ since three other Telugu movies, ‘F2’, ‘Vinaya Vidheya Rama’ and ‘NTR Kathanayakudu’, released during the same period were allocated more screens. He contended that this caused “immense monetary loss” to him.

Further, he also alleged that the theatres, being in a dominant position were discriminating between the producers and distributors based on movies produced in Telugu language and movies dubbed in Telugu, thereby restricting the Telugu film industry.

As per the producer, acts of the local theatres were in violation of Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act which pertain to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant market position, respectively.

However, CCI with respect to the allegation of contravention of Section 3 by the theatres, said the producer has not furnished evidence to demonstrate that there exists an agreement among the theatres in respect of allocation of screens for exhibition of dubbed movies in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

It further said, “it is to be noted that what the Act, under Section 4, contemplates is the abuse of dominant position by an enterprise or a group rather than abuse of dominant position as a result of collective dominance by more than one entity.” Thus, abuse on account of collective dominance is a concept not recognized by the Indian competition regime so far, Competition Commission of India (CCI) noted in its order dated August 1.

“No producer/ distributor can claim as a matter of right any particular number of screens for exhibition of its movies. Accordingly, the Commission is of the considered opinion that no interference is warranted in the present matter,” CCI said while disposing of the matter.

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