10+2 ad cap: Industry rife with speculation as hearing on in TDSAT court
Highly placed sources have suggested that though the TDSAT court will take its normal course over the ad cap issue, there is a possibility of "high level lobbying"
The TDSAT hearing, which is likely to continue for few days, has not evoked any formal response from the industry. Broadcasters we spoke to said that the turn of events was expected and this is the normal course.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, former Congress spokesperson, is the lawyer for News Broadcasters Association.
In the proceedings on the first day, various facets of the CTNR law, 1995 were discussed, which questioned TRAI’s role and power to control content on TV. Although the issue has been discussed many times, it is a rarity that the subject of TRAI’s authority is discussed in the TDSAT court.
Is lobbying in play?
As the industry waits for a decision in this context, there is another side of the story which is being talked about.
Highly placed sources in the advertising, marketing and even broadcasting fraternity have suggested that though the TDSAT court will take its normal course and the best interest of all the stakeholders will be kept in mind, there is also a possibility of “high level lobbying” efforts surfacing within the industry. Media lawyers have also confirmed the above fact.
“Though these efforts will not affect the judgment of the court, one cannot say that broadcasters are not lobbying over the issue,” said a leading FMCG marketer.
Some senior stakeholders in the advertising fraternity we spoke to shared that the broadcasting community is divided on the issue of 10+2 ad cap and this has led to a directionless chaos over the future.
“Broadcasters are divided into cartels, with some supporting and some against the TRAI norm. The 10+2 norm is in a state of genuine flux, with nobody knowing what is likely to happen and the issue in its present form is directionless. Some broadcasters might use their weight to keep things moving,” said a leading senior advertiser.
“There is certainly more than what meets the eye. There are vested interests of certain people and groups. Citing that elections are just a few months away, a lot of people have multiple interests and stakes are high. Therefore, the probability of lobbying cannot be completely ruled out. It would be interesting to see what happens,” said a senior media lawyer, who is following the development very closely.
On the other hand, some sources denied any such possibility. “The matter is in the court and various theories are being suggested and surfaced by many people regarding the same. Anybody can comment on anything they feel is correct. But one needs genuine facts here and not imaginations. If such a thing is happening, one needs proof. Claims and assumptions alone would not suffice,” said a senior media planner.
The 10+2 norm, though considered to be highly beneficial and in the interest of the TV audience, has met reluctance from some broadcasters who cite that advertising is the only source of revenue for them as the subscription revenues are still low and carriage fee is high.
Most broadcasters support the norm, but insist that the timing of the regulation is not correct and that the norm should be implemented after digitisation starts yielding results. The TRAI mandate over 10+2 ad cap makes it mandatory for broadcasters to air 12 minutes of advertisements in a clock hour, including self promotion, under the Quality of Service (QoS) norm, which is part of the Cable Television and Network Rule (CTNR), 1994.
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