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PVR denies Ronnie Screwvala's charge of cartelization


Without naming Screwvala, the multiplex chain denied the charges the producer has levelled in his complaint to the Competition Commission of India.

Mayur Lookhar

Last week, producer Ronnie Screwvala moved the Competition Commission of India against PVR, Inox, Carnival Cinemas, Cinepolis and the Multiplex Association of India over multiplexes continuing to levy a virtual print fee (VPF), which the RSVP boss deemed an unfair practice.

PVR, the largest multiplex chain in the country, has now issued a statement denying Screwvala's charge.

PVR has separately been dragged to court along with the ticket sales website Bookmyshow by a Hyderabad-based NGO, Forum Against Corruption, over the issue of levying internet handling charges for online ticket bookings.

Without naming Screwvala or saying anything on the issue he had raised, PVR said in a statement, "PVR Ltd has apparently been named in a complaint filed before the Competition Commission of India (CCI). As on date, the information available with the company is wholly speculative and based mainly upon media reports and an interview which was given by the sole complainant to a news channel.

"Given the slanderous and malicious nature of the allegations, the company must place on record that it strongly refutes the allegations that have featured in various media reports in the last few days. PVR operates within the prevailing laws and the regulatory framework of the country and is in full compliance of the same. The assertions made in various media reports and in the interview to a news channel, alleging cartel conduct or conduct which is not in the best interest of cinema-goers, are false and aimed at tarnishing the image of PVR and its management.”

Screwvala had accused the multiplex chains of forming a cartel and forcing producers to shell out a VPF of Rs20,000 per digital print. Producers had agreed to pay the VPF for a period of five years to help theatre owners amortize the cost incurred on digitizing their facilities. The five-year period ended more than three years ago.

PVR underlined that it would respond to all queries from the relevant authorities. “Regardless of the malicious intent of these allegations, the company will pursue its normal course of action and will respond to all queries, received from the relevant authorities, as and when asked to do so.”

The multiplex chain did not mention the issue of internet handling fees either but its statement went on to defend its policy in this matter. 

“The business of filmmaking as well as film exhibition have evolved in our country over the years and continue to be on a rapid growth trajectory. PVR has invested and continues to invest large resources into the film exhibition business for the benefit of cinema-goers and other stakeholders. PVR is committed to enhancing every single guest interaction at its cinemas and will continue to focus its resources towards this objective,” the chain said. 

The company refused to get into the specifics of either case. “Since the media reports suggest the matter is sub-judice, we refrain from making any further comments at this stage, other than to state that we have full confidence that any one-sided media report(s) and interview(s) will not in any manner impact the objectivity of the adjudication process before the CCI,” PVR affirmed.