10+2 ad cap: What next for the broadcast industry?

Industry experts say that some broadcasters might use the NBA petition in the court as a shield or might individually file case in the High Court, but there might be no significant outcome before the polls in 2014

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Published: Dec 14, 2013 10:51 AM  | 3 min read
10+2 ad cap: What next for the broadcast industry?

As News Broadcasters Association (NBA) prepares to file a fresh appeal against the 10+2 ad cap of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) after the TDSAT dismissed the case, stakeholders in the media and marketing community have varied views over the developments and the future of the ad regulation.

In an earlier interaction with exchange4media, Man Jit Singh, CEO, MSM Group, which was not following TRAI’s directive, had said, “We always believe that 12 minutes of advertising is in the best interest of the consumer. Our issue was to “phase it” over time. We have worked out an arrangement with TRAI and we said that it has to be worked out together for everyone. Different broadcasters are impacted in different ways; channels in the news, movie, music genre and regional channels are hugely impacted as they have too many advertisers, owing to the nature of their genre.”

Singh, who is also President of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), further said, “If the regulation has to be implemented, it should be altogether for all the broadcasters. We had laid out a time frame, but certain members of the fraternity realised that their economics couldn’t sustain and so there was a break and that was a dispute, which finally went to the TDSAT. We and Sony have never been against the regulation. We just want to do it together with all the broadcasters.”

On the other hand, a senior official in a mainline GEC, who has been following the ad cap case, said “News media is different as it involves national priorities and there is a different value chain attached to it. One cannot say the same about entertainment channels. They have to be treated differently. The NBA might get relief as it falls under the jurisdiction of the press, but as per the CTNR laws, 1995 all other broadcasters need to comply with the norm, including the music category. We do not have any issues now. We are not filing against TRAI and are in adherence with the norm. Mainline channels in the all the categories except news and live-sports should follow the cap.”

Other analysts that exchange4media spoke to shared that TRAI might prosecute the offenders, but the ad cap issue is back to square one. As is known, Tis Hazari court has already summoned broadcasters to be present in court on December 16 to get bail in a case filed by TRAI against them for violating the ad cap rule.

What next?
Stakeholders involved feel that the broadcasters against the TRAI directive might appeal in the High Court. It is unlikely that anything substantial might happen before the General Elections in 2014, but media planners we spoke to feel that since the issue has now been taken into cognizance by the legal authorities, something should come out within a year.

“The arguments would be the same in the higher court. TRAI’s mandate and its role will again be questioned by some broadcasters. We can’t deny the fact that people on both the sides have valid points regarding business infrastructure and their goals. I would like to wait and watch over the development,” said a senior media planner.

Some planners have altered their media spends in the recent days. As far as the broadcasting community is concerned, things have slightly shifted backwards. As of now there are no confirmed reports of any broadcaster filing a case against TRAI in the High Court, but it is likely that some broadcasters who are against the cap might use the NBA petition in the court as a shield or might individually file case in the High Court.

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