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Private players corner cinema e-ticketing pie

KSFDC’s centralised e-ticketing system delayed

The delay on the part of the government in implementing a centralised e-ticketing system in cinema halls across the State has allowed private players who run popular ticket booking applications to capture the market.

This comes at a great cost to consumers, who have to pay hefty Internet handling charges. Even cinemas under the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) are now listed in such applications, although they have a booking system on their own websites.

In 2013, a project for implementing an e-ticketing system began under the aegis of Keltron and the State IT Mission. The idea faced much opposition, right from the initial days, from cinema hall owners. A centralised system would ensure that producers and distributors would get the exact numbers from all cinemas each day. The owners approached the court against the ticket cess which was meant as funding for the Kerala Cultural Welfare Board.

Pilot system

Meanwhile, four companies responded to the call for being technology partner for the e-ticketing system. With the help of the company which quoted the lowest rates, a pilot system was implemented in some of the cinemas in 2015.

The next year the KSFDC decided to run a system of its own through the Information Kerala Mission. The company which was running the pilot approached the court against the decision, a case which is still ongoing. The government’s own system is yet to take off.

Private online ticketing companies expanded their operations during this period, with even government-run cinemas putting their tickets up for sale in these mobile applications.

The consumers have to pay an additional amount of around ₹35 as Internet handling charges for each ticket, a part of which goes to the exhibitor. The government cinema halls have a lower rate of ₹23 under this head in the mobile applications.

“These companies make crores of money from our State every month, without having any physical infrastructure. The proposed e-ticketing system has much reduced charges. It is unfortunate that even the KSFDC’s own cinema halls are now part of these applications. With the current system, producers have to believe the numbers provided by the owners. Usually, they send representatives to each cinema hall to get the actual number of seats filled, but now there are not enough such representatives to go around to all centres. The centralised ticketing system should be implemented at the earliest,” says M.Renjith, secretary of the producers’ association.

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