Civic bodies mulling policy to regulate OOH advertising
The civic corporations are aiming to ensure a permanent income through licensing fee and curb illegal hoardings along roads and streets
In order to restrict unauthorised installation of hoardings, authorities of several civic corporations have joined hands to bring out a proposal to formulate a policy. If reports are to be believed, officials have already started preparations for a draft policy for OOH advertisements.
The civic bodies are aiming to ensure a permanent income through the introduction of licensing fee and curb illegal hoardings installed along roads and streets.
Indrajit Sen, Chief Executive Officer, Consultant at Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA), says rampant illegality in outdoor advertising is a misconception. “Cities that have regulations are mostly free of illegal structures. There are or were exceptions like in Bengaluru but that has now been totally cleaned up. Then, there are places like on highways in states which lack strict compliance rules. Companies create structures in these locations just outside city regulated areas. These are then sold as being in the city itself. These are grey transactions and form not more than 10 to 15 per cent of the total industry turnover,” Sen said.
Media reports said that under this policy, the areas will be divided into three different zones. In the no-advertisement zone, there will be no outdoor advertisements in places like hospitals, police stations, educational institutes and parks. The second zone will include areas like archaeological sites, green spaces and unique city spots. Outdoor advertisements will be allowed only in the ‘general areas’.
According to Prem Shankar Jha, Deputy Commissioner, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, there are hardly any illegal hoardings and thanks to the Smartcity 311 app it helps to figure out the unauthorized hoardings too.
“If one has downloaded the app, it helps in chucking out illegal hoardings. One can upload pictures of illegal hoardings, posters or hoardings on electric poles or inside colonies. So this app will tell us where these hoarding are and we can get them removed and file a police complaint,” Jha said.
“It’s very difficult to give a number to illegal hoardings, if we go by the app the number is Nil. It’s a good move because all the money will now go to the government in a legal way, which is how it should be,” he added.
To cite another example of illegal hoardings, the Bombay High Court in 2018 fined a BJP corporator Rs 24 lakh for an attack on a civic squad that was removing hoardings put up by him and his associates.
According to Anita Nayyar, a media expert, “OOH is a fairly unorganised sector. It will be great if the whole thing can be organised or legalised. One will be then able to figure out the effectiveness of those hoardings. Since many a times they are illegal, it becomes difficult to know the overall real offering of the outdoors in the country. This move will have its own advantage.”
Recently, to curb the menace of unauthorised advertisements, the Jammu Municipal Corporation launched an extensive drive against unauthorised hoardings and structures put up to display advertisements. The JMC team dismantled about 12 unauthorised hoardings and structures, which were erected at different places.
Indrajit Sen also said the reason for municipalities regulating Outdoor Advertising is to gain revenues from License Fees and rentals from tendered property. “This will also help in creating new infrastructure. With proper implementation it will also prevent any kind of illegality. Of course, excessive fees and impractical restrictions are also responsible for people to step outside the law and create their own solutions. But, a well-drafted regulation, which is implemented correctly, is actually a huge benefit to the industry.”
In Kozhikode city, New Delhi-based ICRA Management Consulting Services Ltd conducted a field study and found around 700 illegal hoardings which led to around Rs 76 lakh revenue loss to the civic body.
A highly-placed industry source told exchange4media that the illegal hoardings were causing a 20-30 per cent revenue loss. “One can see illegal hoardings everywhere. Organisations which pursue the authorised way are the big sufferers here. These illegal hoardings take away a lot of revenue from our business. The authority needs to take very strict action here.”
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