Andhra Pradesh: Movie theatres seized for breaching rules

Hyderabad: In Andhra Pradesh several cinemas were seized by officials during state-wide searches on movie halls today, for breaching laws and regulations. During search operations in Nuziveedu, Avanigadda, and Gudivada, a total of 12 theatres were confiscated in Krishna district.

Officials inspected the pricing of online and offline tickets, as well as snacks at food stalls, and discovered that they were far higher than those set by the Andhra Pradesh government.

Theaters that did not renew their permits were confiscated, according to Krishna district joint collector Madhavilatha. She stated that the inspections would be conducted on a regular basis, and that prior permission for screening benefit shows would be required.

Food safety and legal metrology officials would also undertake the checks, and action would be taken if ticket prices for movies starring major actors and films with large budgets were raised, she said. “We’ve seen that outrageous fees are charged at food kiosks and parking lots in movie theatres,” she remarked.

This is to be noted that the Andhra Pradesh high court on December 14, suspended a state government order, reducing the prices of cinema tickets.

The court passed the orders on a petition filed by cinema theatre owners challenging the government order (GO) 35 issued in April this year, reducing the prices.

It allowed the petitioners to sell the tickets at old rates. The petitioners argued that the GO was issued in violation of earlier orders by the court.

They argued that the government’s intervention in deciding the cinema ticket prices was not appropriate and that they had every right to decide the ticket prices at the time of release of new films.

Certain sections of Telugu film industry had voiced their unhappiness over the GO and had urged the government to withdraw it. However, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government had defended its move on the ground that the cinema theatres were resorting to exorbitant hike in prices before the release of big budget films or films featuring big actors.

Last month, a bill was also passed in the state assembly for an online movie ticketing system to be administered by the state government.

The government went ahead with the passing of legislation despite reservations by a section of industry. Minister for Cinematography Perni Venkataramaiah said that AP Cinemas (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill 2021 will check exploitation of moviegoers.

Megastar Chiranjeevi also requested the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to rethink the government’s decision to have a low cap on movie ticket prices.

He had stated that for the survival of theatres and for the many families who depend upon cinema alone for their survival, these reduced online ticketing rates should have the same flexibility as the uniform GST prices.