KFCC moves appellate tribunal against verdict

The coming week will be a crucial one for the Kannada film industry in the wake of Competition Commission of India imposing a fine of Rs. 16.82 lakh on the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) for restricting the number of prints of language films other than Kannada.

KFCC, which follows a set of norms, restricted the number of prints of the Hritik Roshan-starrer Kites and an Abhishek Bachchan film Raavan to 24 in the State in 2010. When the distributor did not heed its ruling, KFCC issued a warning and disrupted the screening of Kites.

According to KFCC president K.V. Chandrashekar, the restriction on the number of prints was evolved to protect the interests of Kannada film-makers who face difficulties in finding cinemas to release their films. Though the rule has failed the legal test several times, it is in place as a practice of convenience.

Besides the makers of Kites and Raavan, producers of RaOne, My Name is Khan, Mousam and a few others have knocked on the doors of Competition Commission of India seeking justice. Noting that the decision of the KFCC was anti-competitive, Competition Commission of India “found it appropriate to impose penalty at the rate of 10 per cent of the average three years income of the KFCC”.

The decision is being viewed as a victory for the distributors of language films other than Kannada, as henceforth they could distribute any number of prints without any hindrance. A distributor on the condition of anonymity said that a “level playing field” had been created now as far as film distribution was concerned.

However, actor Jaggesh said, “This is a big blow to the Kannada film industry, as language films other than Kannada will gain an upper hand over Kannada films, considering their production quality.” Kannada Film Producers' Association president Munirathna said that it will be difficult to compete with language films other than Kannada in terms of grandeur and production values. They are blessed with a wide market acceptability , which Kannada films lack, he said. The future of Kannada films has been rendered bleak by the decision of Competition Commission of India, he claimed.

Meanwhile, a Telugu film, Dammu starring Junior NTR, Trisha and Karthika Nair, and a bilingual film, Eega (Housefly), starring Nani, Samantha and Sudeep, are all set to hit the screens on April 27.

Considering the fan-following of Junior NTR in some parts the State, the Kannada film industry is apprehensive as Anna Bond, with Puneet Rajkumar in the lead, and Kathariveera Surasundarangi, starring Upendra, Ramya and Ambarish, are scheduled for release at the same time.

However, KFCC has approached the Appellate Tribunal of Competition Commission of India. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Chandrashekar clarified that the KFCC would not do anything about the release of language films other than Kannada, though it was detrimental to the interest of Kannada films.

Keywords: Kannada cinema

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