Broadcasters' body slams TRAI move to regulate ad duration

The Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) has expressed concern at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) move to regulate the duration of advertisements on television channels, terming it as an intrusion into its operational freedom.

The association today demanded that the regulator withdraw the notification that will put the "most sweeping and intrusive controls" on broadcasting firms, which are already operating in a very challenging environment. 

''The Indian Broadcasting Federation is deeply concerned about Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's notification, which will force television broadcasters to a maximum of 12 minutes of advertising in every hour of broadcast,'' a statement released by IBF said.

''The industry is largely dependent on advertising revenues for its economic sustenance,'' IBF said, adding that it had been working with TRAI for the last several months on the duration of advertising.

IBF said the broadcasting industry, including television, has also been suffering from the ill effects of the global economic recession.

Also, IBF said the move comes at a time when the industry is faced with the trickle-back effect of the first stage of digitization, which is expected to begin soon.

''Carriage fees introduced in 2008 remain a burden, especially for the more than 500 smaller channel operators,'' IBF said.

''Cable TV tariffs remain frozen at 2005 rates. HD TV and pay channel revenues are just about beginning to happen and will take time to start providing economic value. These factors need concomitant addressing,'' it said.

IBF asked TRAI to withdraw the new regulation, which, it said, would serve a harsh blow to news channels.

''Regulation on just advertising minuteage will have a severe impact on the survival of the broadcasting industry from amputation of a critical arm of the fourth estate. IBF calls for withdrawal of the notification and re-initiation of a participatory dialogue that helps make self-regulation of advertising minuteage in line with global standards a reality,'' the statement added.