SOS vs JTHJ: Ajay Devgn’s complaint against YRF rejected

New Delhi: Fair trade regulator CCI has rejected actor-producer Ajay Devgn`s complaint alleging abuse of dominant position by Yash Raj Films, saying that there are no violations of competition norms in the case.

Ajay Devgn Films Pvt Ltd had moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI), alleging that YRF was using its dominant position to ask exhibitors to dedicate more screens to its own upcoming release, Shahrukh Khan-starrer `Jab Tak Hai Jaan`, affecting Devgn`s film `Son of Sardaar`.

Both the films are releasing on same day -- November 13.

"The Commission is prima facie of the opinion that there is no contravention of the provisions of the (Competition) Act in the present case," it said in an order dated November 5.

The CCI said Devgn did not place on record any data related to market share or economic strength to show how the YRF was in a dominant position in the relevant market.

"It was argued by the counsels for the informant that the opposite parties were dominant because Opposite Party was big banner production house and had big name and had given several block buster films.

"No enterprise can be considered dominant on the basis of big name. Dominance has to be determined as per law on the basis of market share, economic strength and other relevant factors stated under... The Competition Act," the order said.

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the CCI to "expeditiously" decide on Ajay Devgn Films` complaint that its `Son of Sardaar` was not getting enough single-screen theatres as Yash Raj Films has used its dominant position for better exhibition of `Jab Tak Hai Jaan`.

As per the Commission, the grievance of Ajay Devgn Films arose due to fear that it would not get enough theatres for `Son of Sardaar` because of the agreement of single screen theatres with Yash Raj Films at the time of releasing `Ek Tha Tiger`.

Going by Ajay Devgn Films, Yash Raj Films had put a condition before the release of `Ek Tha Tiger` (on August 15) with single screen theatres. The condition allegedly was that if they wanted to screen `Ek Tha Tiger`, the single screen owners had to simultaneously agree to exhibit `Jab Tak Hai Jaan` during Diwali.

Citing information available in the public domain, the Commission said that in Bollywood, 107 and 95 films were released in 2011 and 2012 (till now), respectively.

"This cannot be said to amount to dominance even in the Bollywood industry, leave aside film industry in India. Therefore, the claim of the informant that opposite parties were dominant players in the market `film industry in India` cannot be accepted," the order said.

The fair trade regulator noted that the act of booking theatres by a distributor for its two films simultaneously when the theatre owners have the liberty either to agree or not to agree, is not a restraint on the freedom of business of theatre owners. The non-significant position held by the single screen theatres does not cause any adverse effect on the competition, it added.

"Thus the market of exhibition of new films on single screen theatres in the context of this case is not of enough significance to cause an appreciable adverse effect on the competition. Even otherwise, the market cannot be restricted to any particular period like Eid or Diwali and the market has to be considered a market available throughout the year," the order said.

Noting that it cannot issue restraint orders with respect to agreements which are of minor importance, the Commission said that while issuing such orders, it has to "keep in mind the overall exhibition market and not a particular period of the market".

Ajay Devgn Films` complaint was against six parties -- Yash Raj Films, Yash Raj PP Associates, Yash Raj Puri & Co, Yash Raj Pal Film Distributors (Bangalore), Yash Raj Vandana Film Distributors and Yash Raj Kushgara Arts.


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