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K Sera Sera settles with NBC Universal over rights to screen digital format films


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After filing a case against NBC Universal, UFO Movies and Real Image Media citing anticompetitive activities and cartelisation, digital cinema provider K Sera Sera Digital Cinema (KSS) has entered into an agreement with them over the right to screen the movie Fast and Furious 7 (FF7) on its network across the country. NBC Universal settled the matter by giving the digital content of FF7 under the Bombay High Court (Writ Petition No. 940/2015).

The problem:
– KSS alleged that NBC Universal’s decision to restrict the rights to digital conversion and distribution of FF7 to just two digital cinema providers in India, UFO Movies and Real Image Media, was anticompetitive and unfair. KSS alleged that the 3 companies abused their dominant power for not allowing theatres to install the server and projection equipment of their choice.

– It claimed that NBC Universal had provided rights only to UFO Movies India and Real Image Media Technologies to release FF7 in the digital format, thereby violating the provisions of sections 3 and 4 under the Competition Act, 2002 (pdf). It added that since KSS was refused the move of converting FF7 to digital before screening, people were denied watching the movie at the cinemas.

– KSS claimed that NBC Universal did not have any apprehension of copyright violation if KSS was allowed to process FF7 in its E-Cinema format and therefore had no reason to withhold KSS from conversion and exhibition of movies in its E-cinema format.

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Anticompetitive conduct leading to control & supply of movies, no choice for consumers
KSS alleged that the conduct of the conduct of the 3 companies resulted in determination of sale and purchase of the price of tickets (lack of available options for theatre owners and film watchers) and limiting and controlling the supply of movies. This would also result in the end of business for KSS and similar players due to NBC Universal, UFO Movies India and Real Image Media Technologies’ anti competitive activities with its associates.

According to KSS, UFO Movies and Real Image control 50-60% of the market share in the digital cinema distribution service and were abusing their ‘dominant’ position in the market in collusion with NBC Universal.

KSS Vs Disney
In April, KSS had also dragged Disney to court over the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron where KSS said that Disney had decided to release the movie only in the digital format through D Cinema Technology, which was anticompetitive and restrictive, causing unfair competition. It said that consumers would have no choice and theatres would be forced to approach Walt Disney Studios for the digital exhibition of the movie, despite the presence of other players in the market.  However, the CCI, at that point, had rejected this complaint citing no ‘prima facie’ evidence that competition norms were violated.

Image Credit: Flickr user zizzybaloobah

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