BookMyShow CEO Ashish Hemrajani has hinted that the online booking website may pull the plug on its movie ticketing services in Maharashtra unless a quick resolution to a State Government notice, which requires booking websites and theatre chains to stop charging extra for tickets sold online, is found.
The notice, which was issued four months ago, following which chains like Cinemax India Ltd. and PVR Ltd. stopped charging convenience fees, has left BookMyShow and other online ticketing websites bleeding.
Though other States have not followed up with similar orders, Maharashtra contributes about 15-20 per cent of nation-wide box office collections, almost one of the single biggest markets.
According to industry insiders, several other ticketing players are mulling pulling out as well.
“These are the actions of a hyperactive bureaucrat who has no understanding of the market and what the consumer really wants. We’re taking a significant hit and as a businessmen who has a ‘P&L’ to follow… at some point, if the water goes above the neck, I will shut it down in Maharashtra,” said Mr. Hemrajani, in an interaction with The Hindu on Thursday.
“But who will really suffer then? It will be the customers. It is very painful for us as a company… I will be left with no option if it takes longer,” he added.
BookMyShow is owned by Bigtree Entertainment, in which Accel Partners picked up a stake last year after investing nearly $20 million.
The ticketing portal, which has over 90 per cent market share, caters to nearly 1,900 screens across 125 cities.
The Bombay High Court, in June, directed the theatre halls and ticketing websites to reply to a PIL seeking implementation of the State Government order.
Mr. Hemrajani is hoping that a Bombay High Court judgment, which is expected in the next few weeks, will be favourable.
“There is the PIL on the charges and that has been linked to the Government of Maharashtra case. I don’t think it will take too long… the mood and sense of the court is positive.
“The only reason I’m still there is that I’m keeping in mind our obligation to the end-user, after all, ours is a utilitarian service,” Mr. Hemrajani said.