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Now, Andhra Govt wants to get into online movie ticketing & here’s why

As if the government’s interference into every field isn’t enough and hasn’t set bad examples of management until now in Andhra Pradesh, the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy-led government has passed an order to set up a state-run website for the online sale of cinema tickets in both single and multiplex theatres across the state. The ruling YSR Congress Party’s (YSRCP) decision to enter into the business of movie tickets has come as a surprise for the Telugu film industry.
 
The government order was issued by AP principal secretary (home) Kumar Vishwajit on August 31. It stated that the Andhra government will develop a portal for online booking of cinema tickets on the lines of online railway reservation ticketing system. 
 
This proposed portal will be run by the AP State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation and the modalities were being worked out.
 
As of now, tickets in AP are available through private players such as bookmyshow and also offline, at ticket counters. However, that is mostly restricted to cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and in other major towns. In districts and rural areas, tickets are only sold at physical counters before films are screened.
 
According to an official, the GO was passed keeping in mind tax collections or tax revenues to the state government from movie theatres. “The tax collected per year is just a small percentage of the business the Telugu film industry makes. This is an old issue and is being sorted out. For example, if a film maker earns Rs. 100 crore, the tax has to be paid accordingly,” he added.
 
According to the GO, the Andhra government has constituted a committee to create a blueprint for developing the portal for implementing the online ticketing system. The committee comprises principal secretary (home), who is the chairman, and principal secretary (Information technology) as co-chairman.
 
Other members include secretary of the AP Information and Public Relations (I&PR) department and Managing Director of the AP State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation, Managing Director of the AP Technological Services, a representative of the Commercial Taxes department’s Commissioner and others.
 
The move has, however, worried industry players, who are more concerned as to what the government’s intention is. On reaching out for a comment, most did not even want to speak on this matter and said that it is “very sensitive”. One of them said that this issue will be resolved only when a big actor meets AP chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and sorts it out.
 
Now, what is worrying most film players is about why the government has chosen to get into the film ticketing system. However, a well-known movie producer from Andhra, said that the film industry itself had recommended online ticketing to streamline taxation earlier. 
 
“But the issue now is that there is no clarity about what the government wants to do. They mentioned that they will create something like a railway ticket portal. But how can money first come to the government and then come to us?” he questioned. 

The movie producer added that one can’t go to the government for their money, as it will lead to a lot of red tape. “There is no clarity on this. This is not an essential commodity, it is a business,” he remarked. According to estimates, the Telugu movie industry, known as Tollywood, is believed to generate over Rs. 1000 crore every year (pre-Covid-19). 
 
It is still a wonder about why the Jagan government is getting into all these small businesses including their recent announcement of “mutton marts” which makes no sense. Even citizens of Andhra Pradesh are unable to fathom why these kinds of ideas are cropping up and why the state government is taking over these segments of businesses. 

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