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Broadcasters set to challenge Trai regulation on ads

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Irate with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for its order on restricting advertisements to 12 minutes to the clock hour, broadcasters are burning the midnight oil to work out steps they can possibly take.

Sources say senior officials of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), which represents the general entertainment channels, today held day-long discussions with legal experts in Mumbai and Delhi on whether the regulations which have already been notified can be challenged in Court.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) representing the news channels are also working out their plan of action.

Though neither of the two have issued any formal reaction, it is understood that both are in the process of working out their reaction to the press keeping in perspective the argument given by a Trai official that most channels would be able to make their revenue through subscriptions after digitisation and, therefore, it would not be fair to impose advertising on the consumer who is paying for the channels he sees.

"The IBF and the NBA will soon take up with the relevant bodies the Trai regulation on ad duration on TV channels. We will share our point of views. Like there is a sunset time of three years given for digitisation in the country, sufficient time should be given to channels for capping ad time," says TV Today Network chief executive officer Joy Chakraborthy.

Besides the 12-minute cap per hour, Trai has said part-screen and drop-down advertisements shall not be permitted. This piece of regulation is sure to hurt news and sports broadcasters.

Says Zee News Ltd. chief executive officer Barun Das, "We are looking into the issue and will decide on what course of action to take."

According to an official in the Advertising Standards Council of India, since the regulations were about timing and not content, Asci did not want to react. This was also the reason for India‘s advertising watchdog not to give any reaction when Trai had asked all stakeholders to voice their views.

The broadcasters are likely to approach the Tdsat, industry sources say.

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