Trai seeks clarity from MIB on its powers to act against ad duration violation

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which had last year issued regulations relating to advertisement time on television channels has now sought clarity from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on its powers in acting against violators.

Upset over inaction on complaints against broadcasters, Trai wants to know if it is empowered to enforce rules on duration and format of TV advertisements if it wants to avoid possible “embarrassment” and litigation.

According to newswire PTI, Trai has written a letter to the I&B ministry in this regard, noting that “broadcasters continue to breach the rules repeatedly.

“Movies screened on entertainment channels that should, at best, last for three hours (for two and half hour film) easily stretch to four or more hours," the letter noted.

"This has led to a groundswell of public opinion against the blatant violation of the rules and, more importantly, against the perceived inaction by the government in terms of enforcement of the rules,” the letter said.

Referring to a sample report provided to it by the Ministry, Trai noted that there has been substantial number of complaints reported to the Ministry regarding violations of the advertising code with respect to the duration and format of advertisements.

“The report provided by Ministry, leads the Authority to observe that, so far, almost none of the reported violations to it have culminated in any tangible action against the respective service providers,” the Trai letter was quoted as saying by the sources.

From sample report, Trai has observed that popular entertainment programmes consistently have advertising breaks well in excess of the 12 minutes per hour limit imposed in the rules.

Trai had issued standards for Quality of Service on duration of advertisement in television channels in May 2012. The regulation has been challenged by broadcasters in Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) and jurisdiction of Trai to issue such regulation has been raised in the case.

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