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Reliance joins the horde of TV channels challenging the 12 minute ad cap in TDSAT

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today said a petition by Reliance Big Broadcasting, Mumbai, relating to their television channels will be heard along with other matters challenging issues relating to the ad cap sought to be implemented by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The matters will be heard by the TDSAT on 21 October along with other channels such as Music Xpress, Mastiii, B4U Music, M Tunes and 9XM.

Earlier, TDSAT had accepted an assurance by TRAI not to take any coercive action against television channels from 1 October, when the ad cap of 12 minutes per hour was to have come into force.

In a hearing earlier this week in a similar matter, counsel for TRAI had told TDSAT that an anomalous situation had been created with some channels having accepted the ad cap with effect from 1 October. It was therefore requested that the matter be resolved once for all.

TRAI has so far admitted a large number of matters including one by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) which seeks to challenge the status quo of TRAI in the matter. That petition had been listed for hearing on 11 November but will now be heard along with the others.

The Tribunal had earlier said that while the channels will maintain weekly records of the advertising time per hour on a weekly basis, they will not be required to submit this to the regulator. Unlike the current practice, the records will only be submitted to TDSAT at the time of the hearing of the case.

At that time, Counsel A J Bhambani for the NBA had said that a delegation of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had submitted a formula to the regulator but that did not preclude the broadcasters from challenging the validity of the regulations.

He also said that this was only a compromise reached between the broadcasters and the regulator and could not form the basis of penal action since it was not a regulation or legal provision.

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