Andhra Pradesh government takes over sale of movie tickets, to do it through an online booking portal

Published : November 25, 2021 19:52 IST

Outside a theatre in Vijayawada. Photo: V. RAJU

The online ticketing system will be operated by the Andhra Pradesh State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation and will enable people to book tickets of their choice, theatre wise and ticket class wise.

Andhra Pradesh has made it mandatory for all cinema theatres — from single screen cinema halls in rural areas to multi-screen multiplexes in cities — to sell their movie tickets exclusively through a government-run online booking portal. The State government has taken this decision, apparently the first State in the country to do so, with the avowed aim of ending the exploitation of moviegoers and preventing evasion of goods and services tax accruing to the government.

The online ticketing system will be operated by the Andhra Pradesh State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation and will enable people to book tickets of their choice, theatre wise, ticket class wise, in the following ways: dialing a number, on the Internet, downloading a mobile phone app, or by utilising the short message service (SMS). The government, in turn, will make the payment to the theatres through the Reserve Bank of India’s gateway on a day-to-day basis.

A Bill of this purpose, the Andhra Pradesh Cinemas (Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2021, was tabled in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on November 24 by Perni Venkatramaiah, Minister for Transport, Information and Public Relations, and unanimously passed by a voice vote. The Minister said in the Assembly that he had introduced the legislation on behalf of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The legislation also seeks to limit the number of shows in theatres in a day to four. Said Perni Venkatramaiah: “All these days exhibitors have been screening films for six or even seven shows a day to make big money. Besides, they are collecting Rs.500 to Rs.1,000 on each ticket in the name of benefit shows, without caring for the rules and regulations.” According to Perni Venkatramaiah, the legislation is also intended to curb the exploitation of movie goers, especially those from the lower and middle classes, for whom Rs.500 for a ticket is very high.

In August, the government had issued a government order (GO) stating that “after careful examination of the procedure of the sale of tickets in cinema theatres hereby order to develop a portal for online booking of cinema tickets on the lines of railway online ticketing system”. The GO was issued in continuation of a previous order issued in April, capping the price of movie tickets across Andhra Pradesh.

The Jagan Mohan Reddy government is hoping that the online ticketing system will ensure that films are screened only at the prescribed timings, tickets are sold at prices prescribed by the government, and taxes are paid by producers and distributors as per the theatre’s collection.

Critics, while acknowledging that the new system will usher in more transparency and help plug loopholes in the State’s ability to generate revenue, believe that it could be difficult to implement.

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