Uniform-sized billboards in Mumbai from 2008 news
29 August 2007

Mumbai: Mumbai''s outdoor advertising may wear a somewhat uniform look in times to come, thanks to the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation''s (BMC) plans to amend by-laws which will standardise the size of billboards across the city by March 2008.

The amendments will also see a new set of rules mandating several "dos and don''ts", such as bans on billboards in many locations housing a number of heritage structures.

With beautifying Mumbai being their primary objective, the BMC''s move has sent a shiver down the spines of hoarding owners, as they anticipate a huge impact on their business from these new directives. In protest against the BMC''s move, many of the hoarding owners have initiated a billboard-based ''information campaign'' which warning people of the potential "dangers" of re-sizing and pulling down hoardings from several parts of the city.

The hoarding owners'' body says that it pays the BMC Rs60 crore in taxes, and has raised the spectre of citizens having to pay higher taxes to offset the revenue losses incurred by the corporation once this beautification drive is initiated.

According to Nabendu Bhattacharya, country head, Landscapes and Signscapes, Ogilvy Activation, "the BMC wants to re-write the by-laws because its'' primary objective is the beatification of Mumbai. It also wants to regularise the hoardings business. The hoarding owners are alarmed because they think if the size of the billboards is reduced, then the rates they charge may also come down". Bhattacharya believes that just the reverse would happen, with the rates going up rather than down.

Tariffs for the most premium stretch in Mumbai, from Haji Ali to Mahim Causeway, range from Rs7 lakh to Rs12 lakh a month, with the average size of a billboard being 40 ft by 20 ft. Market dynamics, however, would logically dictate that restrictions on billboards in parts of the city will see hoarding owners charge a premium, since clients will have much lesser choice. Most industry insiders confide that the BMC''s new plans will not really penalise hoarding owners of the city in any manner.

Currently, the entire out-of-home or outdoor advertising business is estimated in around Rs1,300 crore, with almost half of this accruing from billboards. The past two - three years have seen a healthy 20-25 per cent growth in this advertising segment.

Ostensibly, the beautification drive will see the absence of billboards, dubbed as ''eyesores'' by many in the city who wish to cherish the sight of non-commercialised heritage buildings, from places like Colaba, Marine Drive, and Peddar Road, in south Mumbai.

Rates of billboard space near these areas are likely to see an upswing of an estimated 15 perc ent to 20 per cent. Most of the hoardings business is concentrated around the suburbs, which pretty much insulates their business from the BMC''s plans.

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Uniform-sized billboards in Mumbai from 2008