Not releasing mega-budget movies in competition with another movie is not an anti-competitive conduct

Competition Commission of India: A four-member bench comprising of Devender Kumar Sikri, Chairperson and Sudhir Mital, Augustine Peter and U.C. Nahata, Members, ordered the matter filed under Section 19(1)(a) of Competition Act 2002, to be closed forthwith holding that no case of contravention of provisions of the Act was made out against the makers of the movies ‘Padmavat’ and ‘Padman’ (opposite parties).

The informants alleged that the opposite parties (OPs) had violated Section 3(3) of the Act. The informants were primarily aggrieved by the fact that the OPs, makers of the above named two movies, colluded to share the market by scheduling different dates/time frames for releasing their respective movies, resulting in controlling the supply of movies in the market. It was informed to the Commission that in a joint press conference, makers of the movie ‘Padman’ announced the postponing of the release date of their movie on request of makers of the movie ‘Padmavat’. As per the informants, sharing and allocation of time frame for movie release was a collusion between filmmakers that fell within the ambit of Section 3(3)(c) of the Act, and thus impermissible.

After perusing the information and noting the facts, the Commission observed that releasing of a movie is a strategic and tactical business decision taken by the producers. In the instant matter, the release of ‘Padmavat’ was delayed due to severe protests by a certain section of the society, and not by collusion with any other party. Moreover, the decision of not releasing both the movies at the same date was taken due to non-availability of a sufficient number of screens, which would have caused loss to producers of both the movies. The CCI held that such decision, being a result of market outcome, was a legitimate business decision rather than an anti-competitive practice. In absence of any evidence regarding a concerted action by the OPs, the CCI held that the anti- competitive conduct alleged against them was not established. The matter was accordingly directed to be closed forthwith. [Kshitiz Arya v.  Viacom 18 Media (P) Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine CCI 41, dated 01.06.2018]

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