TRAI moves Delhi High Court against 'excessive' ads on news channels

In the plea, the regulatory body has contended that it has received several letters from consumers complaining about their viewing experience

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 26, 2021 8:54 AM
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The 12-minute ad cap matter has become alive again as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has moved the Delhi High Court against excessive advertisements by news channels. The Delhi HC has sought responses from the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the Central government on the TRAI plea.

In its plea, TRAI has contended that it has received several letters from consumers complaining about their viewing experience because of excessive advertisement on various television channels. TRAI has filed an intervention application in a petition filed by NBA challenging rule 7(11) of Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 (CTN/Cable TV Rules). The NBA has argued that the rule is ultra vires to the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the constitution.

The rule 7(11) mandates that no TV channel can air more than 12 minutes of ads in a clock hour. “No programme shall carry advertisements exceeding twelve minutes per hour, which may include up to ten minutes per hour of commercial advertisements and up to two minutes per hour of a channel’s self-promotional programmes,” the said rule reads.

TRAI counsel Advocate Maneesha Dhir told the Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh that it is already a respondent in a bunch of similar petitions challenging the Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisement in Television Channels) Regulations 2012 and Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisement in Television Channels)(Amendment) Regulation 2013.

The ad cap regulation was challenged by the news broadcasters, who argued that TRAI has no power to regulate the length of advertisement on TV channels and “regulating advertisement is nothing but regulating free commercial speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”.

Posting the matter for hearing on December 23, the bench clubbed the NBA’s petition along with those already pending before it and asked the NBA and Centre to respond to the TRAI's intervention application.

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