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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Bombay cinemas on strike
Film poster
Bombay is home to India's huge film industry
By Monica Chadha in Bombay

Single-screen cinema halls in the Indian city of Bombay have gone on strike against the Maharashtra state government's new entertainment tax policy.

Bombay filming
Single screen owners fear they will lose marketing rights
Nearly 70 cinema halls shut on Thursday because new rules give a three-year tax exemption to existing and new multiplex cinemas, while single-screen theatres continue to pay a hefty 60% tax.

The General Secretary of the Theatre Owners Association and Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of India, Nester D'Souza, told the BBC that single-screen theatre owners were annoyed at the government's discriminatory approach.

He said in a market-driven economy, the multiplexes would have a definite advantage because of the tax exemption given to them.

Heavy losses

Mr D'Souza pointed out that this would allow the multiplexes to offer better rates to film distributors, and to buy the marketing rights for the latest releases.

He said that single-screen theatres would be forced to run less successful B-grade films at a heavy loss.

Today's token protest is expected to cost the screen owners nearly six million rupees ($127,000).

But Mr D'Souza says the move was necessary to get the government's attention.

The theatre owners are expecting to meet the chief minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, to discuss the issue.

They went on a similar strike about five years ago to protest against a hefty entertainment tax of 176%.

At that time, they remained shut for almost a month until the government relented.

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