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Jan 10, 2013, 09.23 AM IST
Fair trade regulator CCI today dismissed charges of cartelisation and abuse of dominance by the Multiplex Association of India, as it did not find any evidence to this effect pursuant to a probe into such charges levelled by the film producers.
The complaint was filed before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) by the producers through Film and Television Producers Guild of India (FTPGI), which alleged that MAI and its 14 members force the producers to accept their own terms with a threat of not exhibiting the film in their multiplexes.
The members of the the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) include PVR , DT Cinemas, Reliance MediaWorks , Inox Leisure, Cinemax and Satyam Cineplexes. CCI said in an order passed today that it did not find any cartelisation among the multiplex operators, although a probe by its investigation arm had found indications of multiplex theatre operators "acting like a cartel under the banner of MAI".
As per the producers' complaint, the collective decision taken by the MAI and its member multiplex operators not to exhibit the films of the FTPGI members in order to determine the price of their services was an anti-competitive agreement.
Besides, it was alleged that their collective decision for not exhibiting the films produced or distributed by the FTPGI members, if they do not agree to their demand for higher revenue share, amounts to abuse of their dominant position. The producers had consequently asked CCI to restrain the multiplexes from entering into such alleged anti-competitive agreement and from abusing their dominant position by refusing to exhibit the films.
After looking into the complaint, CCI had asked its investigation arm in August 2011 to probe into the matter and submit a report. The probe report was submitted to CCI in January 2012, there was a long history of dispute over revenue sharing between the distributors/producers and multiplex operators.
The report further said that an earlier agreement of MAI in 2007, with regard to release of Aamir Khan-starred 'Fanaa', was found to be monopolistic in nature and the pact was withdrawn after an order passed by erstwhile MRTPC.
As per the DG's report, although the agreement of MAI was withdrawn after the decision of the MRTP Commission but coordination between the members of MAI continued and the terms relating to revenue sharing for releasing a particular film on various multiplex theatres were decided after joint consultation of the multiplex theatre operators.
"However, the multiplex theatre operators being aware about the outcome of indulging in such anti-competitive activities avoided any trail of written evidence or documents like those of the agreement jointly entered between the MAI and its members in January 2007.
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