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TRAI trying to enforce 12 minutes of advertising per hour rule

Submitted by Karthik on 23 March, 2013 - 11:44

A story on Live Mint notes that TRAI is trying to enforce a rule restricting advertising time on television channels to 12 minutes per hour. The following are some of the reactions cited in the article:

“It’s an extremely draconian step. It ignores the reality on the ground. News channels don’t have any alternate source of revenue. Markets are depressed and the carriage cost is still high,” said K.V.L. Narayan Rao, president of News Broadcasters’ Association and NDTV group executive vice-chairperson.

“If the regulator implements the restriction overnight, it will kill the industry,” said Raj Nayak, chief executive of Colors, the Hindi general entertainment channel from Viacom18.

This extreme draconian step or restriction has been around at least from 2009 and possibly all the way back to 1994 when the Cable Television Network Rules were formed. These rules include the following pertinent points:

  • The picture and the audible matter of the advertisement shall not be excessively loud
  • All advertisement should be clearly distinguishable from the programme and should not in any manner interfere with the programme viz., use of lower part of screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme.
  • No programme shall carry advertisements exceeding 12 minutes per hour, which may include up to 10 minutes per hour of commercial advertisements, and up to 2 minutes per hour of a channel’s self-promotional programmes.

As far as I can tell, broadcasters abuse, violate, breach, contravene, disobey, and otherwise break each of these rules with the wanton abandon of the irresponsible. Another article which was published last month covers this issue in greater detail. It notes that broadcasters regularly display ads for as long as 30 minutes in an hour:

Broadcasting sector executives, especially those working for news channels, privately smile at Trai’s naivete. They say that during the peak festival season or in the case of an important event, the duration of advertising goes up to 30 minutes per hour. Little surprise then that Trai – which held open-house discussions with consumer rights groups recently – is taking up the issue with the government on behalf of millions of television viewers.

They're getting no sympathy from me. This matter is now in the hands of the TDSAT where the broadcasters are challenging TRAI's authority.