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Film Exhibitors Association holds special session to discuss priority issues

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Film Exhibitors Association Chairman Dr. Buddhi Keerthisena

  • Hail Presidential Committee report and new measures; suggest way forward

The Film Exhibitors Association (FEA) on Tuesday held a special session at the National Film Corporation to discuss government decisions taken to activate necessary plans included in the presidential committee report, in order to solve issues regarding the distribution of films, development of the industry and other main issues. 

A large number of film exhibitors from all over the island were present at this occasion. National Film Corporation Chairman Sithendra Senarath was also present.

Most members expressed their satisfaction about the new plans and also expressed their fullest support to the proposals. Those include: Taking over the distribution of films to the National Film Corporation from private circuits; Reducing 10% of the commission paid to film circuits to 6% and given to NFC. This 6% will be used to develop the film industry; Increasing film income by 2% more to film halls and film producers; Making arrangements to restore tax benefits and reliefs to the film industry that was abolished by last budget; Taking measures to reduce electricity charges and entertainment tax to the industry; Distributing and importing local and foreign films properly and streamline the system; Set up a development fund to enhance the local film industry; Providing support through NFC in order to produce new films which caters to the needs of the audience; and Supporting in refurbishment of film halls, implementing digital technology through low interest bank loans. 

15 proposals forwarded by the committee including those listed earlier were highly praised by the FEA membership. They thanked President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa for the decisions taken by them to support the industry.

Members also accepted if there is any injustice done to private sector by taking over film distribution, justice to be done as per agreement between NFC and companies. 

NFC Chairman Senaratne said: “Whatever anyone says, the distribution of films is not a challenge for the corporation. NFC has done this successfully in the past. We have already made new plans to proceed.”

He further mentioned that the corporation will do fair justice to everyone and continues to be transparent. He said that actions will be taken to import foreign films if needed. He said the film corporation act will also be put into action properly, to benefit the industry.

Film Exhibitors Association Chairman Dr. Buddhi Keerthisena said taking over distribution of films was a government decision, and now the film corporation will have to implement it properly to safe guard the industry. All trade unions and staff members of the NFC should work together to achieve the target. 

He also said that it was in news, that the members of the film distributor circuits have last week set up a forum to revitalise local film industry. He welcomed the action taken by them at least now, after 18 years. He added that this is a good move and wish them all the best and requested to get all stake holders of the film industry to this revitalising program. 

FEA Secretary Nishantha Pradeep Mohottige said private film distribution companies have earned over Rs. 160 million as commission during the year 2017. Accordingly, in best periods, they have earned Rs. 250/300 million per year. During the last 18 years, their income would have been above 5 billion. This money could have come to NFC if not privatised the distribution 18 years ago.

Many members questioned the forum what did they do to the film industry of this country at least using a small part of this money they earned as distribution commission. 

Today, the distributors blame the government for taking over film distribution to NFC. But, distribution was given to private sector on temporary basis without charging any money. However, the circuits could not operate as per the terms and conditions of the agreement with NFC. It was not an unreasonable decision to take over the distribution back to NFC, as the business was given free of charge, without any compensation, said most exhibitors.

Some of the exhibitors cried at the meeting, saying that they were harassed by some film importers, but distributors or NFC did not do much about their complaints.

The chairman of the NFC said in future they will not allow similar incidents. 


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