The Competition Commission has dismissed allegations of unfair business practices against the producers of Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani 2 movie, which was released last year. K Sera Sera Digital Cinema had moved the regulator after the film’s producers — Pen India and Boundscript Motion Pictures — refused to provide the movie to it for exhibition. Among others, it was alleged that the movie was given only to UFO Moviez India and Real Image Media Technologies. As per the complaint, Pen India, Boundscript, UFO Moviez and Real Image Media had entered into an anti-competitive agreement with a view to limit or control the release of the film. In its order dated June 21, Competition Commission of India (CCI) said there is no substance in K Sera Sera’s allegation that the producers refused to provide the movie due to anti-competitive pact with UFO Moviez and Real Image Media. The regulator has concluded that there was no violation of Section 3 of the Competition Act that pertains to anti- competitive agreements.
Pen India had also submitted to the CCI copies of a news article about a complaint filed by producer Viacom18 against K Sera Sera in relation to online piracy of the movie Force-2 that was released in November 2016. “… it was reported that the investigations conducted by Viacom18 revealed that pirated copies had originated from the copy that was sent to the informant (K Sera Sera) for digital integration,” CCI said in its order citing contents of the news article. In the 9-page order, the regulator said K Sera Sera has neither refuted the allegations reported in the news article during the oral hearing nor adduced any documents to rebut the same in their written submissions after the oral hearing. “The Commission observes that the complete silence on the part of the informant (K Sera Sera) on the issue of online piracy as raised in the…news article indicates that the allegation of OP 1 (Pen India) is not baseless and have some substance in it.
“Thus, an objective business rationale to protect the commercial interest of OP 1 and OP 2 (Boundscript Motion) cannot be overlooked in a proceeding under the (Competition) Act unless the same is shown to have exclusionary effects or is tainted with an anti-competitive objective,” the order noted. Further, the fair trade regulator said the decision of Pen India and Boundscript to refuse to exhibit their movie to through the K Sera Sera’s digital service, with whom other producers have had “issues of piracy” earlier, appear to be taken as a precautionary step to prevent any loss due to piracy. “The Commission is of the view that the alleged conduct of OP 1 and OP 2 in refusing to provide the content of the movie Kahaani 2 to the informant does not appear to be unreasonable and anti-competitive,” CCI said.
While passing the order, the regulator observed that the very objective of competition law is to protect the interest of consumers and the process of competition. “It is not concerned with the harm to the competitors unless that also leads to harm to the consumers,” CCI added. Besides, the regulator dismissed allegations of abuse of dominance against the opposite parties saying there is no prima-facie evidence of such violation.