Wednesday, May 16, 2012

12 min per hour ad rule angers broadcasters


NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator's decision to limit advertisements to 12 minutes per clock hour besides introducing restrictions on the number of breaks and ban on part-screen or drop down advertisements during sports events has met with strong criticism from the broadcast industry.The new guidelines introduced as part of the "standards of quality of service regulations'' is likely to hit broadcasters' revenue model and comes at a time when the industry is already under severe financial strain. 


Most news channels are running ino losses or operating on wafer-thin margins as they have to make huge investments in preparing news programmes and then bearing the entire cost of uplinking the content to the satellite from where it is downloaded by the multi-service operators. However, this has been ignored by Trai who has asked TV channels not to show advertisements for more than 12 minutes in an hour and directed that any shortfall of advertisement duration in any clock hour cannot be carried over. 


The regulator has ignored concerns raised by broadcasters that a universal measurement based on clock hour basis would not be logical as viewership patterns differed throughout the day.Trai has also specified in its statement that the minimum time gap between any two consecutive advertisement breaks should not be less than 15 minutes while in case of movies, this time gap should be a minimum of 30 minutes. 
A senior executive with a TV channel said broadcasters were struggling to recover even 20% of the cost of the movie in the first year of telecast with no restrictions. With a limit on the number of breaks, TV channels would be unable to recover the cost of acquiring the film that would adversely affect the TV and film industry.For sports events, advertisements can only be shown during a break in the sporting action with a ban on part-screen and drop-down advertisements. This has been seen as an excessively disproportionate measure according to broadcasters. 


Trai has even a prohibitory regulation on the audio level of advertisements mandating that the audio level of the ads cannot be higher than that of the programme.Industry sources said these restrictive conditions could cripple the channels and even impact the news coverage with news channels deprived of crucial revenue.The notification comes close on the heels of the earlier Trai notification in favour of multi-service operators (MSOs) granting them the liberty of charging a carriage fee from news broadcasters.[TOI]  

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