Broadcasters' plea against cut in TV ad time admitted

Broadcasters' plea against cut in TV ad time admitted

Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has admitted appeals filed by broadcasters , challenging a notification by sectoral regulator Trai that reduced the advertisement time on TV channels. In their petition, the broadcasters have contended that Trai has no power to limit advertisement times. According to the broadcasters, only the Centre can issue such directions under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.They further claimed that the present Trai Act, 1997, authorises the regulator to make recommendations only.

“The authority has exceeded the mandate given to it by the Central government and instead of making recommendations to the government, it proceeded with formulation of the regulation,” submitted one of the broadcasters.

Besides, Trai has not only sought to regulate the parameters within which the advertisements will be aired by the broadcasters, but also determined the format, nature and duration of the advertisements.

“The authority has very ingeniously sought to disguise content regulation as Standards of Quality of Service, which it is not entitled to do,” said the petition.

The appeal was made by Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), a representative body of news and non-news channels and other broadcasting houses including ESPN India, Multi Screen Media, Neo Sports and Discovery Communication.

TDSAT issued a notice to Trai and asked for a reply within three weeks. It also gave two weeks time to IBF and other broadcasters to file rejoinders over Trai’s reply.

Meanwhile, Trai assured the tribunal that no coercive action would be taken against the broadcasters till July 17, the next date of hearing.

In a notification dated May 14, Trai had limited the duration of advertisements to 12 minutes per hour. Besides, pending airtime of advertisements cannot be carried over to the next hour, the telecom regulator had said.

It also said the minimum gap between two consecutive advertisement breaks should not be less than 15 minutes while in case of movies, the time gap should be a minimum of 30 minutes.
The conditions shall not apply in case of live broadcast of a sporting event, it added.

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