Entertainment News

Southern film producers threaten strike from March 1 over digital service provider rates

Negotiations have stalled over the inability to hammer out an acceptable fee structure.

The threat of yet another strike in the South Indian film industry looms large.

For the past two weeks, the producers’ councils representing the four South Indian film industries – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam – have been negotiating with digital service providers such as QUBE and UFO about the prices being charged for services. Alongside the talks, representatives from the producers’ councils have also called for a strike from March 1 and have said that they will not release any South Indian films if the negotiations do not yield any positive results.

The latest round of talks took place in Bengaluru on Friday. Another meeting is expected to take place in the next few days.

One of the primary points of contention is the fee charged by digital service providers for the virtual print. Producers believe it is too high.

“We offered a deal for small productions i.e. the films that release in less than 100 screens,” a representative of QUBE told The New Indian Express. “But it was rejected. As a second option, we offered to reduce the fee for all films by about 20 per cent. This will benefit them as they claim no film runs for more than two weeks. But they rejected this too, and instead, asked for a consolidated reduction incorporating the number of shows per week. As a final option, we offered producers a discount of nine to 10 per cent (UFO offered a discount of 14 to 15 per cent). But they didn’t accept it. Instead, they continued demanding an overall reduction of 25 per cent.”

The producers, in fact, want all virtual print fees and weekly rentals to be waived.

“The virtual print fee has to be completely removed even if the film is getting released in less than 100 screens,” SR Prabhu, the treasurer of the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council told the newspaper. “They made an offer to reduce the virtual print fee from 22k to 20k. Even if it was 14k as they claim, it wouldn’t work for us. We want all VPF and weekly rentals to be waived. We have no control over the release of English and Hindi films from March 1, but we believe they won’t be getting released. We also believe that the DSPs will come to an agreement before March 1. We’ll be on indefinite strike till we find a solution.”

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