Vijayawada: Several film theatres have stopped screening of films in protest against ongoing inspection against them and demanded an increase in the ticket prices at least in municipal and panchayat areas.
The revenue authorities have been inspecting several film theatres across the state in the last few days, to find out whether they have all required permissions and have complied with all regulations. The revenue officials have shut some theatres for flouting norms. In Krishna district alone, the revenue authorities have shut 12 theatres.
The film exhibitors in East Godavari, West Godavari and in other parts of the state stopped screening the films mainly in municipal, nagara and gram panchayat areas alleging that the rates of admission were very low despite the uniformity in power tariff and GST to be paid by them across the state.
The film exhibitors have moved the High Court seeking a direction to the state government on allowing them to increase the rates of admission, and accordingly, the court issued an interim order to do so in consultation with the concerned Joint collectors who are the licence issuing authorities. They claim that the rates of admission fixed as per GO 35 in municipal and nagar and gram panchayat areas are unviable.
East Godavari Film Distributors Association honorary president Challa Sankara Rao said, “Nearly 30 film theatres mainly in nagara and gram panchayats are closed. The exhibitors were unable to screen the films as it turned out to be unremunerative due to low rates of admission. It is not known whether they will reopen or not and when.”
Meanwhile, the state government issued directions to the revenue and police authorities to ensure no benefit shows are screened and also no hike in rates of admission to be allowed for the new films like Shyam Singha Roy. The authorities are directed to keep a close tab on theatres to ensure strict compliance with its direction.
Krishna Joint Collectors K. Madhavi Latha said, “Based on directions from the government, we have issued instructions to the revenue and police personnel to keep tab on theatres screening release of new films to ensure no screening of benefit shows and hike in rates of admission and in case we find any violation, we will invitation action as per norms.”
Film industry sources say that nearly 450-500 theatres do not have a valid licence to screen the films in AP.
Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce vice-president M. Rama Dasu said, “The screening of films in municipal, nagara and gram panchayats turns out to be unviable based on the rates of admission fixed by the state government and it will be good, if the government revises them upwards.”
52 theatres face closure in Chittoor
In continuation of the ongoing state-wide drive against movie theatres because of ‘non-compliance’ of rules and regulations, around 52 theatres at different locations were slapped closure notices in Chittoor district on Thursday.
Inspections by revenue officials and other line departments revealed that around 52 movie theatres across the district had not renewed their licenses but were screening movies. It was also found that most of them were selling snacks at much higher rates and sanitation was horrible and without permits.
Of the 52 that have been served notices, seven theatres are at Madanapalle, four each at Kuppam, Piler, Punganur and Palamaner, three in V. Kota, two each at Rompicherla, B Kothakota and Kalikiri and other places.
In a statement on Thursday, joint collector (revenue) Rajababu said that the theatres were served closure notices as they did not renew licenses.
Meanwhile, theatre owners along with former president of Telugu film chamber N.V. Prasad had on Thursday evening met the joint collector and sought opening of theatres while giving two days time for renewing licenses and to provide better sanitation conditions. However, the JC denied their request and asked them to first renew the licences.