Around 650 single-screen cinemas across Maharashtra will go on a weeklong strike from 25th March to 31st March to protest against heavy entertainment tax and other issues. This decision was taken on 17th March at the joint meeting of the Cinema Owners & Exhibitors’ Association of India (COEAI) and the Central Circuit Cine Association (CCCA). At a meeting of the CCCA held on 18th March in Amravati, it was decided that no distributor-member of the CCCA would supply any prints for screening, to any cinema (whether single-screen or multiplex) in the Vidarbha and Khandesh regions of Maharashtra from 25th to 31st March. Likewise, the UFO Moviez and Qube authorities have volunteered to support the COEAI and the CCCA in their fight against the government and have agreed not to accept any ROs for any film shows in any cinema in the Vidarbha and Khandesh regions of Maharashtra during the strike period. In other words, UFO and Qube will indirectly ensure that multiplexes also remain closed during the strike days. It may be mentioned here that the current bandh is being planned by the single-screen cinema owners who feel, they are being given a stepmotherly treatment by the government because multiplexes in the state are entitled to a tax holiday while single-screen cinemas are not given any similar benefit. The move on the part of the CCCA’s distributor-members, UFO and Qube is, in a way, an arm-twisting tactic of the single-screen cinema owners to get multiplexes to support their demand. COEAI president R.V. Vidhani said that the Association had been appealing to the government since two years for reduction in entertainment tax but the government had simply refused to entertain it. It had not even bothered to reply to the COEAI’s mails.
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