In this digital era, TV viewers want to watch their favourite cricket matches, films and serials without too many interruptions. However, broadcast companies are minting money by inserting far more advertisements than permitted while a petition against the restriction drags on in the Delhi High Court.
From news to entertainment to sports channels, everyone is cashing in, but the biggest beneficiaries are cricket TV rights holders. The IPL is the prime example with broadcaster Sony showing commercials for almost three extra minutes per hour.
The Programme Advertising Code prescribed under the government’s Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 reads, “No programme shall carry advertisements exceeding 12 minutes per hour, which may include up to 10 minutes per hour of commercial advertisements and up to two minutes per hour of the channel’s self-promotional programmes.”
As things stand, in a three-hour IPL match, Sony roughly sells 540 extra seconds (nine minutes) for advertisements, while the court petition filed by the New Broadcasters Association and other channels awaits resolution. These 540 seconds don’t include the two minutes per hour that the broadcasters are allowed to use for promotion, and Sony is selling those slots as well.
So, five extra minutes per hour, or 15 minutes in an IPL game, is used for commercials. IPL 9 is a 60-game tournament. According to industry experts, Sony charges between Rs 4.50 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for a 10-second slot during league matches and playoffs and the rates for the final could touch Rs 10 lakh.
“The issue of regulating advertisement time is applicable across broadcasters and is pending before the Delhi high court since December 2013. So, given that this matter is sub judice, we shall not comment on it,” Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) said in a statement. In 2013, NBA petitioned the Delhi high court to stay the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) action against broadcasters flouting the rule for advertisements.
The next court hearing is on August 1.
“See, it is not only cricket broadcast companies that are violating the rules. Most news and entertainment channels are also violating the law. But in terms of ad rates, violation of cricket broadcasters is bigger than that of the news and entertainment channels,” Manish Tewari, Information and Broadcasting minister in the previous UPA government, told HT.
The Lodha panel has proposed interruption-free telecast of international matches --- no ad breaks during a session of play --- but has exempted IPL and T20 matches.
The BCCI argue that retaining the commercials is crucial to maintain its revenue level.