Push the 12 min per hour ad cap deadline to Dec'14 says I&B Min

In a new development, Minister of Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari recommends   that the 12 minute per clock hour advertising cap deadline be postponed to December 2014 from the earlier date of 1 October 2013 which had been set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Voicing his opinion on the matter Tewari said “The final phase of India’s cable TV digitization is likely to be over by September 2014 and the broadcast industry would be in a position to generate a substantial dividend from the digitized cable TV ecosystem which could well compensate them for the loss of air time revenues on account of the reduction in advertising air time. We, at the I&B, have hence suggested to the TRAI that ad air time reduction should follow the completion of digitization.”

Earlier this year in May, TRAI had made it mandatory for general entertainment TV channels (GECs) and news TV channels to reduce their advertising air time per hour to 16 minutes and 20 minutes respectively from 1 July 2013 and to 12 minutes by 1 October 2013. The reason cited for this decision was that GECs were booking and telecasting around 18-20 ads per hour while on the other hand it was 25-30 minutes for news channels thus resulting in an  advertising clutter and affecting viewing experience for TV audiences . This led TRAI to order the broadcast ecosystem to reduce advertising air time around a year ago.

There was resistance from Broadcasters, especially news TV channels who opined that it could impact their financial viability. They approached the Telecom Disputes Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) chief Justice Aftab Alam to intervene in the matter.

However complying with the TRAI ad cap mandate, GECs and news channels reduced their air time to 16 minutes and 20 minutes effective 1 July 2013. Although most GECs were able to increase their advertising air time rates in the range of 12-30 percent but same was not the case with news channels who have not found it feasible to do so citing high cable TV carriage fees which has been a drain on their resources and thus a deterrent in taking the necessary steps.

Now it is up to  to TRAI to take a stand on the forthcoming recommendation from the  I & B ministry . It would be interesting to see whether the body is in agreement with the minister’s suggestion and how they intend tackling  the matter at hand.


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