Online Ticketing Agents (OTA), especially for movies, are being questioned by Bombay High Court (HC) for overcharging patrons who purchase movie tickets from them, reports Medianama. The HC has asked multitude of online companies like BookMyShow.com, Big Cinema, Fame India, INOX, Fun Multiplex, Sterling, Globus Cinema, New Excelsior, 24 Karat Multiplex, HDIL Broadway, Abhiruchi City Pride and E-Square to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Sunil Lulla.
What the PIL about: Interestingly, Lulla is merely asking the companies to implement a Government Order already issued on 4th April of this year. The government of Maharashtra had ordered cinema halls to follow the Satellite Computerized Ticket Printing from April 1st 2013 and also allowed single-screen cinema halls who were losing business and facing shutdown, to double their service tax in order to adopt digital technology.
While the order seems to favor the Single Screened Movie Theatres, the decision was taken to bring in transparency & accountability within the highly lucrative Entertainment Sector. Owing to decentralization in the way tickets are printed & sold, there was no perfect way to keep a tally on the business & in turn Government couldn’t get its revenue from the taxes. Coincidentally, Entertainment Tax is one of the highest money-spinners for the Government which stands to earn as much as 30% per ticket sold.
The rule states:
“For any of the cinema hall in the state, the exhibitor or owner or agent should not charge any additional charge to the viewers for online computerized ticket sale. The said amount given to the agency should not be charged to the viewers by the exhibitor/owner.”
In other words, the charge for the ticket sold online should be the same as, when purchased at the counter.
This simply means online ticket sellers cannot add charges like ‘Ticket Handling Charges’ or ‘Convenience Fees’ in addition to the Ticket Charges. Even though PVR Cinemas has agreed to abide by the rule, last year alone, it earned Rs. 5 Crores (US$ 0.9 Million) as Convenience Fee revenue. Online Ticketing Companies will surely feel the pinch of this stream being truncated. Now they may have to turn to the Movie Theatre owners for their revenue or look elsewhere. What do you think?
Image Courtesy | livemint