Regulators

Total of 149 news and non-news pay channels violated adcap shows study

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NEW DELHI: Even as the adcap case continues to drag with hearing slated for later this month, a study shows that a total of 149 pay channels including 28 news and current affairs continue to violate the regulations for telecasting a maximum of twelve minutes of advertisements and commercials.

The report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India shows that the number of violators among news channels has come down but that non-news channels has risen sharply as on 27 December 2015.

Average duration per hour of Advertisements (Commercial & Self promotional) during peak hours (7pm ?10 PM) in Pay News Channels for the period 28 September to 27 December shows that the highest of these is 22.66 minutes by NDTV 24X7 and the lowest is 12.42 minutes by CNBC TV 18 Prime HD..

Among pay non-news channels for the same period, the highest is 23.99 minutes by B4U Movies and the lowest is 12.13 by Sun TV Network’s Adhitya.

There are at least twelve news and 37 non-news channels clocking more than fifteen minutes per hour.

TRAI has made it clear that “the information is based on the data submitted by the broadcasters and TRAI bears no responsibility for correctness of same. As per information available with TRAI, rest of the Pay News and non-news channels are carrying less than 12 minutes of average duration per hour of advertisements (Commercial & Self promotional) during peak hours (7PM - 10 pm)”.

While asking the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India not to take any coercive action against any channel pending hearing of the case, the Delhi High Court had asked all channels and TRAI to keep a record of the advertising time consumed including commercials.

The petition had been filed by the News Broadcasters Association and some channels challenging the TRAI decision to implement the directive of 12 minutes contained in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry and TRAI are the respondents in the petition.

After the Information and Broadcasting Ministry told the Court on 27 November that it was discussing the issue with broadcasters, the matter was put off to 11 February and then to 29 March. In the 11 February hearing, Discovery Communications moved for intervention while Home Cable sought early hearing.

In its intervention MSO Home Cable Network (P) Ltd said it wanted to intervene as it was directly affected by the outcome of the present petition. It wanted the NBA petition to be dismissed and added: “The Pay channel broadcasters are profiteering at the expense of subscribers and the DPO’s. There is no justification for changing monthly subscription when commercial advertisements are inserted. The Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) Regulations 2012 (with Amendments thereafter) is justified to the extent they are applicable to Pay Channels. The pay channel broadcasters cannot charge the subscription fee while inserting commercials into the content or in the alternative, the subscribers have to be compensated for the revenue earned on the basis of their being subscribers of the channels.”

Interestingly, I and B Minister Arun Jaitley had in January last year said that he was in favour of any ad cap in the print or electronic media.

In the petition, the news channels have taken the plea that most of them are free to air and therefore do not get any subscription fee from the viewers as the GEC channels do.

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