Even as consumer organisations accused cinema theatres of resorting to excess collection of entry fee over and above the approved rates of admission, theatre owners wanted the Government to revisit the approved entry fee rates.
Excess entry fee collection is done through various modus operandi by a section of the theatres. While some of the theatres resort to issue of tokens without mentioning the entry fee (these tokens are exchanged with tickets, when the movie goer gets into the cinema), another section resorts to collection of excess entry fee in the form of Internet and handling charges ranging from 15 per cent to even 54 per cent.
According to Secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause K. Kathirmathiyon, after the withdrawal of the entertainment tax, cinema theatres were permitted by the State Government to collect Rs. 50, 40, 25 and Rs. 15 for AC theatres in corporation, municipalities, town panchayat and village panchayats respectively. For non-AC theatres, rates of admission were fixed at Rs 30, 20 and Rs 10.
In respect of multiplex theatres with three or more screens, rate of admission was fixed at Rs, 95. However, the maximum and minimum rates of admission in multiplex theatres with air condition and food court facilities were Rs. 120 and Rs 10 respectively vide an order in May 2009.
Concern is not about tickets sold at premium rates outside the counter but tickets sold at counters at prices over and above the rates of admission approved by the Government, he added.
A Film Exhibitors’ Association member pointed out that theatres collected excess fare in the name of Internet and handling charges, while some theatres just issue reservation slips/tokens without mentioning the rates of admission. While entering the cinema, the moviegoer could exchange the token/slip in lieu of a ticket with the permitted rates of admission printed on it.
Secretary of Coimbatore, Tirpur, Erode and the Nilgiris Film Exhibitors’ Association R.S. Balu said that the association was already taking steps to convince the Government on the need for re-visiting the rates of admission fixed in 2006, which has become unviable and unrealistic as on date. Rates of admission should be realistic in terms of the facilities and the resultant overheads the cinemas incur on maintaining such facilities, he added.
Meanwhile, the association was also sensitising its members to not to resort to excess entry fee collection in any hidden manner so as to strengthen its decision to move the Government for entry fee revision. Sources in the district administration said frequent inspections and surprise checks are held in cinemas and more so when new films are released. In the event of excess fee collection, public could always write to the licensing authority with details.