Terming as an attempt "to muzzle the media" the new TRAI rule mandating TV channels to restrict advertisement duration to a maximum of 12 minutes in any given clock hour, the news broadcasters on Saturday demanded suspension of the regulation till digitisation is fully implemented across the country.
"With the general elections looming ahead it appears that this is an attempt to muzzle the media by taking away its ability to operate independently," News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which has the country's top news channels as members, said in a statement here.
It said the regulation came at a time when news channels are facing an unfriendly business environment and 90% of the revenues are coming from advertisements.
"The regulations, if implemented, will force many news organisations to shut down, taking away our democratic right to inform and educate and to do it independent of the government," the statement said.
Demanding suspension of the new rules till digitisation is implemented across the country, NBA said despite phase-I of digitisation being implemented, its benefits have not yet accrued to broadcasters.
The carriage fees continued to be high and most news broadcasters do not get subscription revenues. Also, over the one last year or so, news organisations have not received any advertisements from DAVP, it said.
"NBA urges the government to ensure that the said regulation is kept in abeyance till digitisation is fully implemented in the country (with consequential benefits of no or low carriage fees and credible subscription revenue) and DAVP recommences advertising on news channels at rates which are fair and acceptable," the statement said.
TRAI had yesterday notified the regulation as per which it can intervene if a channel shows more than 12 minutes of advertisements per hour.