Broadcasters have earned a five-week vacation from the upsetting
regulation of limiting ad time on their networks, as Tdsat
has stayed the Trai notification till the hearing comes up
on 17 July.
a while, broadcasters will at least not have their ad revenues
hanging by a thread, its future determined by a 12-minute
ad cap per hour fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority
of India (Trai). Stressed by a slowdown in the ad economy
and anxious about the implementation of cable TV digitisation,
the least they want to do is cut down on commercial time and
take up the troublesome task of upping advertising rates.
none of the broadcasters are willing to obey the Trai order
as they feel that the broadcast watchdog is overreaching its
powers by regulating TV ad time.
the Tdsats stay order comes as a major source of relief
at a time when the least that the media industry wants is
got a stay from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate
Tribunal (Tdsat) today. The hearing is due mid-July,
says Star India chief executive officer Uday Shankar.
broadcasters have horrible woes. If there is a way for them
to wriggle out of the mess that they have themselves created
by coughing out high distribution costs, cutting ad rates
amidst competition amongst themselves and living under high
staff costs, it is by giving more commercial time to advertisers.
TV news, the most fragmented of the lot, dedicates on an average
20-24 minutes of ad time per hour. Even with this abundant
supply, news broadcasters find their ad revenues crawling
at below 10-per cent growth and their profitability under
Zee News Ltd (ZNL) chose a different path to tread this year,
cutting the commercial time of its flagship Hindi news channel,
Zee News, by 30 per cent while upping the ad rates by 40 per
cent. However, the 'Maximum News, Minimum Break' journey from
2 April has been a bumpy one.
ratings have not seen much impact. And we have ended up producing
more content. Perhaps, this experiment needs more time to
yield results. We will wait for a couple of quarters more
before we take a call on whether we want to go back to our
old route, says Zee News Ltd chief executive Barun Das.
not forget that Zee News slash in ad time of eight minutes
for every half-hour slot is still above the ceiling of Trais
prescription of 12 minutes of commercial time per clock hour.
So imagine the misery news broadcasters will be in if they
have to swallow Trai's medicine!
the tangled financial problems that the news broadcasters
face, it is the timing of Trais regulation that comes
under question. News channels need more time to weed out the
ad inventory flab that they have created due to economic compulsions,
much to the irritation of the TV audiences.
TV Today Network CEO Joy Chakraborthy, Trais so-called
radical step would jeopardise the business models of news
channels. Less ad time would mean more content costs. Besides,
scaling back on ad inventory by 40 per cent (from our average
of 20 minutes per hour to 12 minutes) would mean demand outstripping
supply and, hence, higher costs. This will discourage small
and local advertisers, who form a fair bulk of clients for
news channels, to come on board. These steps suggested by
Trai should come when the digitisation rollout is complete.
We cant fight on all fronts.
ad time on news channels varies from month to month.TV Today
Network, for instance, offered 22 minutes of commercial time
per hour in March. This came down to 18 minutes in April.
and sports broadcasters consider another regulation by Trai
as retrograde at this stage of maturity: the ban on part-screen
and drop-down advertisements.
use scrolls on a positive sense. For Olympics, we, for instance,
will run scrolls. We earn Rs 120-140 million from the part-screen
and drop-down ads, says Chakraborthy.
ad regulation will also pinch hard the sports broadcasters.
According to the broadcast regulators prescription,
the ads during live broadcast of a sporting event should be
only during the breaks in the sporting action.
A clock hour measurement system, however, does not suit this
genre of channels as live content is seasonal and limited
to a specific period.
TV networks have also objected against the capping of ad duration
on their channels.
looks like Trai is linking digitisation to shrinkage of advertisement
space. There is no logic in this and it is very untimely,
says the head of a broadcasting company on condition of anonymity.
control in ad diet is something that TV viewers would, indeed,
love to have. Broadcasters, however, feel that the best route
to maturity is self-regulation in content and ad inventory
order is ridiculous. It is like putting the camels nose
in the tent. Every independent player should decide on what
course of action to take. Market forces know best how to play
the balancing role, says Times Television Network MD
and CEO Sunil Lulla.