Broadcast regulator TRAI is likely to implement the 12-minute per hour cap on advertisements for non-news TV channels from today as the deadline agreed to by broadcasters to bring down the time allotted to commercials ended on Monday.
However the fate of TRAI's Quality of Service (QoS) regulation, which mandates channels to show not more than 12 minutes of ads and promotional content per hour, still hangs in balance as some broadcasters have appealed to Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against it.
According to the sources in TRAI, the law pertaining to ad cap has not been stayed by the TDSAT. Hence, it would be implemented. As per the regulation, channels will have to submit a weekly report on quantum of ads shown every hour.
However, the News Broadcasters Association(NBA), which represents news channels, had got some relief on August 30 from the TDSAT which has directed "till further orders, the TRAI shall not take any coercive measures against the appellants or its members to make them abide by the impugned Regulations".
Moreover, it had also exempted news broadcasters" from submitting the weekly report to the TRAI". Meanwhile, it had asked news broadcasters to "faithfully maintain record of the time of advertisement per hour for examination by the Tribunal at the time of hearing of the Appeal".
I&B minister Manish Tewari too had said in the past that the demand of news channels, which have held that the rule would have an adverse effect on the financial viability of the electronic news media, should be looked into. Sources said that while Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had in the past agreed to make sure its members bring down the ad content to required levels by October 1, there is no consensus among its members.
Industry sources said the IBF has issued a mail to its members saying "as a result of petitions by the news and music broadcasters at TDSAT and differing opinion otherwise, it is apparent that there is no consensus on the QoS notification on TRAI on adcaps....We suggest that you pursue action that is in your best interest." The IBF too had approached the TDSAT on the matter but later withdrew its petition on September 11, though one its members has approached the tribunal independently.
Despite an assurance given to the TRAI by the IBF to bring down the ad content to 12 minutes per hour, many broadcasters are uncomfortable with implementing the ad cap. Many others, however, have already brought down the quantum of ads as per the requirement, sources said.
As per a roadmap agreed to by the TRAI and the IBF, from October 1, all channels have to abide by the its regulation which states that channels would not show more than 12 minutes of advertisements every clock hour.