TRAI says too many ads on TV, wants curbs

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suggested putting a limit of 6 minutes per hour for advertisements on pay channels.

The Authority, which issued a consultation paper in this regard today, also suggested putting a cap of 12 minutes per hour on ads in free-to-air channels, like Doordarshan.

In live sports events, it has suggested restricting ads to play-breaks such as over-changes, drinks-break, half-times etc..

In another controversial suggestion, it has suggested totally banning part-screen advertisements or ‘window’ advertisements — mostly used in sports events.

It also suggested restricting ‘scrolls’ in news channels. It suggested that news-channels should not be allowed to run more than two scrolls at the bottom of the screen and they should not occupy more than 10% of the screen space. These scrolls are used for supplying headline news, stock quotes etc..

“In case of sporting events being telecast live, the advertisements shall only be carried during the interruptions in the sporting action e.g. half time in football or hockey match, lunch/ drinks break in cricket matches, game/set change in case of lawn tennis etc. matches, game/set change in case of lawn tennis etc.,” TRAI said in a new consultation paper today.

The advertisements in the television channels contribute a significant portion of the revenue for the broadcasters.

Advertisements account for 71%of the revenue for pay channel broadcasters.

“Thus, there is a natural tendency to push more advertisements by the broadcasters in their television programmes. The increasing duration and distracting formats of advertisements adversely affect the consumers’ viewing experience. This has been reflected in consumer complaints and opinions being expressed at various fora,” TRAI said.

With the primary objective of striking a balance between giving a consumer a good viewing experience, and protecting the interests of all the stakeholders of the television industry, TRAI, suo motu, is taking up a review of existing regulations on duration of advertisements and their format, the body, which also regulates the media sector in India, said.

In case of normal ads, it said “the 12 minutes of advertisements (for free to air channels) will not be in more than 4 sessions in one hour. In other words, there will be continuous airing of the TV show for at least 12 minutes each.

“Not more than three advertisement breaks shall be allowed during telecast of a movie with the minimum gap of 30 minutes between consecutive advertisement breaks,” it said.

“The audio level of the advertisements shall not be higher than the audio level of the programme,” it added.