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Competition between neighboring cinemas – Sebastopol Cinema, located inside the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center and Eyoha Cinema, located 800 meters from the center – has turned ugly. Sebastopol Entertainment PLC has been charged with unfair competition against the smaller Eyoha.
The Trade Competition and Consumer’s Protection Authority initially led the charge, suing Sebastopol Entertainment for intentionally blocking new Amharic movies from screening at Eyoha Cinema. On December 16, the Federal Trade Competition and Consumer’s Protection Appellate Tribunal heard witnesses of the plaintiff in the case.
Sebastopol used intimidation directed at film producers, refusing to screen their films at Sebastopol, if they let their films be screened at Eyoha Cinema, according to witnesses.
A film producer, and also witness in the case, testified that the defendant forced him to agree that his movie will be screened at Sebastopol Cinema given that it is not shown at Eyoha Cinema. The witness said the defendant had rejected movies which had been screened as well as had their posters displayed at Eyhoa.
According to the witness, Sebastopol’s unfair trade competition led to Amharic film makers avoiding Eyoha Cinema. The boycott has had a devastating result on the 170-seatEyohaCinema. The 700 seat Sebastopol Cinema is owned by Tewodros Teshome, a renewed producer, scriptwriter, director and actor.
The witness told the jury that film producers forcibly accepted the defendant’s orders and showed their films only at Sebastopol. The very act of Sebastopol Cinema was found contradictory to the “fair completion” principle of the Trade Competition and Consumer’s Protection law as stated in proclamation number 813/2013.
The Appellate Tribunal bench adjourned the case, to hear the defendant’s witnesses on December 22.