IBF plays hard ball; orders TV channels to take off ads from 1 May evening

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: From 6 pm evening on Labour Day, (1 May), the Indian Broadcasting Foundation’s (IBF) pulled the plug on all television advertising on its members channels. It sent out a missive to its members forcing them to stop airing any TV commercials. The only exception to this ban were Sony Six and Sony Max, the two channels which are airing the sixth edition of IPL.

Already around late afternoon Star Plus and its channels had started carrying a ticker which read: “Ads are not running on this channel because advertising agencies have refused to accept revisions in billing methods which are seen as flawed by tax authorities. We regret any inconvenience but Star group is committed to doing business with the highest standards of compliance which reflects the true commercial arrangement between advertisers and broadcasters.”

According to Star India CEO Uday Shankar, his network was carrying only ads of those agencies whose clients had agreed to work on net bills as of midnight 30 April.

Among the brands, the ads of which were being aired on the Star network included: Navratna Oil, and Fogg Deo. Zee TV was carrying spots of Wasan Eye Care. Colors too had stoppped airing commercials. Sony also blacked out all advertising on its network though in the day it was as business as usual. Sab aired commercials of Lays, Breeze and VIP; Sony Entertainment Television - Breeze, VIP, Bournvita, LG, Clinic Plus, Airtel, Dell, Frooti, Whirlpool, Caprese, Odonil among others. Most of the broadcasters were using the ad inventory to promote shows on their network channels.

Shankar reiterated that there was no truth that the black out of ads will last a few hours or just one day but in fact will continue till the issue is sorted.

According to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) board member Anurradha Prasad, the black out of ads is being supported by the association too. "We need to get this issue resolved quickly. The income tax authorities have been sending us notices for tax which is not our responsibility. Hopefully, this black out will put an end to the net bill confusion, though channel losses (in the absence of advertising) could be substantial."

AAAI president Arvind Sharma in an SMS to our correspondent said that they were in discussions with IBF and ISA on the same. "We are hopeful that these will be concluded by the evening of 2 May."

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