Price charged by digital service providers key issue for South Indian film fraternity
With the South Indian film industry bracing for an impending strike from March 1 that will stop new films from being released, a meeting that included representatives of the Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu
CHENNAI: With the South Indian film industry bracing for an impending strike from March 1 that will stop new films from being released, a meeting that included representatives of the Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil film industries along with the various Digital Service Providers was held on Wednesday.
It all began when the Telugu film industry threatened to go on a strike from March 1 in protest against the charges imposed by digital service providers (DSPs) like Qube, and the Tamil Nadu Film Producer’s Council followed by announcing that it will be joining in. It is known that the following conditions were stipulated by a union of those representing the various film industries: Virtual Print Fee (VPF) (`22,500/screen/film) for regional films will not be paid; advertisements to be confined to 8 minutes; two trailers to be telecast along with the film for free.
The Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce President P Kiran said that if the digital service providers did not agree to the conditions, theatres will be closed and that no new films will be telecast from March 1.
“However, shooting will go as planned,” he said.
Similarly, Kerala Film Producers Association president G Suresh Kumar said the producers will be forced to join the shutdown called by the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce if digital service providers like Qube and UFO did not slash their charges.
“The major chunk of our profit goes to them. We have attended the meeting and informed them of our stance. Though we are yet to decide on joining the protests, we will be forced to do so if we do not get a favourable response,” he said.
Suresh said he expected a consensus in a follow-up meeting scheduled on February 16. “They had originally promised us that the prices would be slashed after five years. But 12 years have passed, and the rates are so high that we are forced to pay over `27 lakh for a film/month to get it released in 100 centres,” he added.
A representative from Qube, Satish, said, “We cannot take decisions on the matter yet, and hope to have a response by the time the next meeting happens. Right now, we will be having a conversation with the theatre owners on whether they will be able to bear the fee and only after that can we make the decision. Let us hope for an amicable solution come February 16.”
So what if no solution is arrived at? Tamil Nadu Film Producers’ Council treasurer S R Prabhu said, “We are prepared for the eventuality. We have some aces up our sleeve and we are prepared to meet the challenge head on.”
Nikilesh Surya, owner of Rohini Silver Screen in Chennai, does not think that all the conditions are reasonable.
“While we have no problems showing trailers, I don’t think they have any right to ask us to limit advertisement run-time to 8 minutes. Also, we won’t be able to bear the VPF and it has to be borne by the distributors only. Perhaps, we can all eventually arrive at an amount we are all happy with,” he said.
Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president Sa Ra Govindu had said that the Kannada film industry would express solidarity by joining the strike on March 1, but that film release would be allowed from March 2 in Karnataka.
“There is a long time between now and March 1. Things change even in a day; so let us see,” said S R Prabhu. (With inputs from Meera Suresh, A Sharadhaa, and Murali Krishna C H)