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Indian TV advertising faces new restrictions

The duration of television advertisement breaks in India is to be capped at 12 minutes during each hour of the clock - a move likely to prove unpopular with broadcasters.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also stated the minimum gap between consecutive advertisement breaks must be of at least 15 minutes duration, or 30 minutes during film screenings on TV.

In addition, TV advertising during live sports events must be limited to natural breaks in the sporting action, according to the new regulations announced by TRAI on 14 May.

Further guidance stipulates that only full screen advertisements will now be allowed – no 'pull down' or split screen commercials will be tolerated – and audio levels during advertising breaks must not exceed those of the TV programme they follow or proceed.

"Since the dawn of the television, advertisements have been used to promote a wide variety of goods and services," said TRAI. "Advertisements provide for a significant portion of the revenue of the television industry. The broadcasters of the free to air channels rely solely on the advertisements as their source of revenue, while the pay channel broadcasters have twofold source of revenue in the form of advertisement and subscription revenues."

However, the current TV advertising environment in India has received much consumer criticism, says TRAI, and as such must be improved to benefit the viewer experience, while protecting the commercial interest of broadcasters.

The new regulations follow the related consultation paper issued by TRAI on 16 March 2012.

The television and advertising industries opposed the notion of regulating the duration and form of advertising, which they claimed would impact adversely on broadcasters' business models. Consumer groups, however, had welcomed the consultation process and regulatory moves to limit the number or frequency of advertisements on television.

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