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Indian TV channels flaunt ad cap

News, 13 May 2015

NEW DELHI: A total of 140 Indian television channels are airing more than 12 minutes of advertising an hour, in breach of a directive from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with some broadcasting in excess of 20 minutes.

TRAI listed 101 general entertainment television channels and 39 news channels that had shown more than 12 minutes of advertising an hour during peak viewing times during the last week of February.

News channels were among the worst offenders, with six airing more than 20 minutes of ads per hour, including ETVC Rajasthan, IBN Lokmat, 24 TAAS, News24, INDIA TV and NDTV India.

Among entertainment channels the peak was the 17.90 minutes of advertising registered by UDAYA Movies. At the other end of the scale, TRAI also listed channels that were as little as 2 seconds over the limit.

Broadcasters conceded the introduction of the ad cap in October 2013 but have challenged the directive in the high court; TRAI has agreed not to take any action against channels breaching the cap until the case is resolved.

New channels were among the most vocal in opposing the cap and in the run-up to its introduction reported that revenues were falling as they reduced commercial airtime from as much as 30 minutes in an hour to around 20.

Ultimately, they argued, inventory would be halved but rates could not be doubled to compensate.

Consequently, observers noted that some advertising had moved away from television into print while there had also been an increase in interest in advertiser-funded programming.

The broadcasters' economic needs have run up against the regulator's quality requirements. TRAI argues that the volume of advertisements carried is a quality-of-service issue as if there are too many that ends up adversely affecting the viewing experience of the consumer.

Data sourced from IndianTelevision.com, TRAI; additional content by Warc staff