Inox has written to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), saying the statements made by media veteran Ronnie Screwvala about the virtual print fee (VPF) — a charge levied by film exhibitors — were false and misleading. Inox is the second firm after PVR in a month to write to the markets regulator on the issue.
The letter dated April 26, a copy of which is with Business Standard, says Inox was informed about Screwvala’s complaint to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) only on April 11, a month after he had approached the body. In the interim, Inox said the media veteran continued to talk about the issue even when the matter was pending before the CCI.
On March 19, Screwvala had moved the CCI against multiplexes for charging VPF, which he said was a significant contributor to revenue and profitability of multiplexes.
VPF is typically levied on film distributors by exhibitors to share the cost of digitisation of screens.
However, after a dialogue between the producers and exhibitors a few years ago in India, it was decided that the levy of VPF for Hollywood films would differ in comparison to Indian movies.
Inox also claimed in its letter that brokerage firm Emkay Global had flouted the Research Analysts Regulation that prohibits analysts from providing unreliable, misleading and unsubstantiated advice to investors.
The complaint also mentions a conference call about the film distribution and exhibition industry, organised by Emkay Global on April 11, where Screwvala was invited to speak.
“Mr. Screwvala had been invited to address investors and purportedly discuss his views in relation to the pending CCI complaint. Surprisingly, no representative of the company was invited to present an unbiased view of the events,” Inox said in the letter. E-mails sent to Emkay Global in this regard went unanswered.
Reacting to the complaint by Inox, Screwvala tweeted on Sunday, “Amusing to see @InoxMovies – sending a 9-page rambling letter to SEBI complaining about Slander! For all their clear acts of discrimination towards Indian cinema and anti-consumer — and they cannot defend even one of the many serious points and allegations made by content creators.”