The 80-year-old Kannada film industry is facing a serious crisis with local entertainment channels adopting a pick-and-choose policy in acquiring satellite rights of films. According to the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) Chairperson B. Vijayakumar, the fate of over 200 films hangs in the balance as entertainment channels have refused to acquire the satellite rights.

KFCC has appealed to entertainment channels to negotiate with producers and bail out the production sector. “If they don’t listen, the production sector will incur a loss of Rs.100 crore,” he said.

Although the trend of buying and selling satellite rights of a film is a recent phenomenon, producers in the past few years have been making films banking mainly on satellite rights. Initially, entertainment channels were keen on acquiring the satellite rights of films, and were making an advance payment to the producers on the day of the ‘muhurtam’.

In fact, in the past, entertainment channels competed with one another in buying films casting popular artistes, and thus the market value of films also increased significantly. “Four entertainment channels in Karnataka have acquired rights of over 3,200 films,” according to Thomas D’Souza, Honorary Secretary of the KFCC.

Ganesh, producer and secretary representing the producers in the KFCC, noted that middlemen with “good contacts” exploited the situation and made huge profits.

Now, the situation has completely changed. Entertainment channels are not so enthused as many Kannada films have failed to click on television in terms of numbers of Gross Rating Points (GRPs) and sales revenue. A film is shortlisted based on the star cast, director, budget, storyline, music and previous theatre and television performances of a similar film.

They don’t have any reservation in acquiring rights of films of prominent actors such as Puneet Rajkumar, Darshan, Shivaraj Kumar, Upendra and Sudeep. According to sources, a channel has quoted a huge figure to acquire the satellite rights of actor Darshan’s yet-to-be released Brindavana.

However, one section of producers welcomes the new trend as they believe that this will effectively control quality. With the real estate boom, many realtors started producing films to channelise their funds, and made their kin heroes, thus compromising on the quality, says Artistes Association Secretary Rockline Venkatesh.

Entertainment channels don’t have any reservation in acquiring satellite rights of films of prominent actors such as Shivaraj Kumar and Sudeep.