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TRAI: No TV prog. shall carry ads exceeding 12 mins per hr

The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has made amendments  to the regulations it had issued under Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of advertisement in TV channels) on May 14th 2012. The regulations were issued to provide guidelines on advertisements seen across television broadcasters. TRAI has made two key changes to those regulations.
 
Earlier the principal regulation stated that the gap between end of one advertisement and the commencement of the following advertisement should not be less than a 15 minutes. Now as per the new amendment, TRAI has deleted this clause in context to minimum gap between two consecutive ad breaks. As a result with the minimum gap being deleted the advertisement minutes can be taken forward.
 
The other amendment which earlier stated in Regulation 3 of the principal regulation that “No broadcaster shall carry in its broadcast of a programme, advertisements exceeding twelve minutes in a clock hour and any shortfall of advertisement duration in any clock hour shall not be carried over” has now been amended to “No broadcaster shall, in its broadcast of a programme, carry advertisements exceeding twelve minutes in a clock hour.”
 
The explanation of the clock hour which is said to “commence from 00.00 of the hour and end at 00.60 of that hour (for e.g. example 14.00 to 15.00 hours)” is the same.
 
Another additional amendment has been made on 27thAugust 2012 which states that every broadcaster shall, within fifteen days from the end of a quarter, submit to the authority in the format specified by them, the details of advertisements carried in its channel and this report shall be furnished to the authority, for the quarter ending on the 31 December, 2012, latest by the 15th January, 2013.
 
TRAI is of the opinion that these regulations are the need of the hour to ensure that broadcasters are following the advertisement regulations laid under this notification. The Amendment also states that they (TRAI) have the power of authority to intervene from time to time, issue order or direction as it may deem fit to ensure compliance of the provisions of these regulations.
 
The following specifications have been made in the new draft.  The explanatory note highlights the advertising code with the following:
 
1. The picture and the audible matter of the advertisement shall not be excessively ‘loud’
 
2. All advertisements 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 viz., use of lower part of screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme.
 
3. 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.” 
 
In view of the above specifications the status remains unchanged for news and sports channels who were not in favour of this regulation.  The restriction on the use of the lower part of the screen to carry captions – static or moving alongside remains unchanged.
 
It is mandatory for all television channels to follow the advertising code as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, along with the amendments from time to time. The TRAI notified the “Standards of Quality of Service (Duration Of Advertisements in Television Channels) Regulations” on May 14 when it was seen that many broadcasters did not follow the provisions laid down in the advertising code.  
 
Public opinion has been divided on the issue. The regulation was challenged by several broadcasters in TDSAT. They have also questioned the TRAI’s role in administering the issue.
 
An important point to note is that the current draft  regulation “Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) (Amendment) Regulations, 2012″ has been prepared for consultation with stakeholders. The full text of the draft regulations can be viewed on their website (www.trai.gov.in) and responses are expected to reach the regulator by 10th September  2012.  
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