It may be good news for the censor board and its chairperson Sharmila Tagore but it's bad tiding for the film industry at large.
The central government of India has approved the proposal of Sharmila Tagore for a significant hike in film certification fees. She had demanded a hike of 300 per cent from the current fee and has got that and more.
Confirming the move, a senior Information and Broadcasting official said that before this the maximum amount taken from the producer of a feature film as cerification fee was Rs 4200.
The fee was last hiked in 1983 and before that in 1966. According to the new guidlines, the average certification fee for a feature film will now be in the range of Rs 14,000 to Rs 20,000. In addition, producers will be charged a screening fee of about Rs 1,000 as well.
The decision will not only the feature film industry but also the small-budget regional and educational documentary film industry.
Tagore in her letter to the ministry had written about the poor financial condition of the censor board. She said that the fee collected by the censor board was so little that it hardly met the expenses to censor a particular film.
The certification process requires at least four members of the advisory panel board to watch a film before giving it an U, U/A or A certificate.
A sum of Rs 500 is given to each member as sitting fee. If other expenses are added, the cost overshoots the fee charged by the board.
When asked why the fees had not been raised for so long, a ministry official said that the earlier I&B ministers were not sure about the reaction of the entertainment industry and wished to avoid a confrontation.