TDSAT-Ad cap: Amicus curiae No 2 takes over

MUMBAI: The TRAI ad cap hearing has entered its final stages at the TDSAT even as the second amicus curiae Aman Ahluwalia came up spoke forth, following the completion of first amicus curiae Madhavi Divan's arguments.

Divan had opined that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has authority because duration of TV commercials is not content and quality of service is not a technical point. So the TRAI had the right to mandate any ad regulation under section 11 of the TRAI Act.

Ahluwalia put forth the point that there wasn't a necessity to get into the larger aspects as to whether TRAI has the right to deal with content or not because duration is not content. A decision can be made as to whether duration can be taken as content and if it is not then TRAI has the powers under section 11 of the TRAI act to deal with quality of services.

Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution will not come into the picture if it is held that duration is not content.

He also said that he had personally done an average of ad timings on English channels for a week in September, after the 12 minute ad cap regulation came into effect. His finding was that broadcasters were doing an average of 17 to 19 minutes of TV commercials and it was not as grave as TRAI was making it out to be.

The TDSAT bench questioned Ahluwalia that if there already was a provision in the Cable TV Networks (CTN) Act then what was the need to consider enforcement of regulating advertising under the TRAI Act. The bench added that it was difficult to understand that the regulation is the same as section 7 (11) of the CTN Act because they don't have the same wording. To this Ahluwalia said that if they have powers under two laws but they have just used one then the two should be harmoniously constructed.

Ahluwalia will continue on the commercial aspects of the the enforcement of the ad cap case tomorrow after which broadcasters will get a chance to submit their rejoinders.

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