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Mumbai's billboards to go dark from 6 pm and 10 pm

02-May-2005
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Mumbai's billboards to go dark from 6 pm and 10 pm

According to a new legislation propelled by the Maharashtra Electricity Commission, there will be no power for billboards from 6 pm to 10 pm in Mumbai. Out of 3,000 billboards in the city, about 1,700 are illuminated ones. It means that brands will seek more of morning sites than evening ones, and vendors would be affected in more ways than one.

The move has raised several eyebrows in the industry. Said Soumitra Bhattacharya, President, MOMS, "I honestly don't know what to think. 6 pm to 10 pm are the peak hours for the Mumbai traffic and if you are getting rid of illuminated billboards during that time, it would mean a huge loss for both brands and the outdoor industry. But still, the same is being done in cities like Cochin, where there is plenty of load-shedding and billboards are completely cut off along with the rest of the city. But it's a first for Mumbai. We will just have to see how they are going about the implementation."

Bhattacharya added, "In matters of government intervention, there is little that outdoor players or brands can do about it. Generally, 6 to 10 is the time slot when all the people are out on a prowl in the city, and the notice ability value of all billboards goes at an all time high during these hours."

Meanwhile, Anuj Kanakia, Spokesperson, StarSight (Starcom's outdoor division), asserted, "What's the whole deal? It was initially being suggested by the Electricity Commission that they would cut down on cinema-halls and the number of shows that are being exhibited. I think that this particular resort would be a lot more realistic than cutting down on the power supply of billboards. I mean, we are talking about the peak traffic hours here. These are the hours, when the billboards derive the most notice ability."

Kanakia said, "There have been newspaper reports which have said that while the rest of Maharashtra will suffer heavy load-shedding this summer, Mumbai is expected to be cut free. The city, which is supplied by Tata Power and Reliance Energy, will continue to receive uninterrupted power supply if both companies run their plants at full throttle. With that in mind, while the rest of the city will have uninterrupted supply, why are only the billboards being targeted?"

Meanwhile, Rathnakar Rai, Managing Director, Prime Outdoors, stated that the industry will just have to take it in its stride and move on. He said, "If there is a need to save on power and the Electricity Commission has taken to this resort, we should just take it in our stride and go on. It's only for two months, in any case. It will not have such a great bearing on business, as billboards being billboards attract as much attention, even during the day."

This would see a situation wherein brands would seek more of morning sites than evening sites. Vendors would thus be affected. Plus, there may be some that don't invest as much in outdoor, for the next two months.

The Maharashtra Electricity Commission's decision doesn't really come as a shock to many, as off-late there have been large and looming questions on the existing power situation. It has been pointed out by many, that since the past 10 years, the state has done nothing to generate more power. Farmers are using more power than they used to and transmission losses and power theft are on the rise.

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