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Broadcasters slam restrictions on TV ads

The Indian communications regulator has been accused of exceeding its brief by irate broadcasters, following its decision to cap the duration of television advertisements to 12 minutes each hour.

Advertising is the major source of revenue for the Indian broadcasting industry, which now estimates losses of between 15 and 40% from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) move.

"TRAI has no jurisdiction in the subject. Advertising is governed by the Cable and Satellite Act and the appropriate authority is the ministry of information and broadcasting. The regulator is overstepping its brief," Uday Shankar, president of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), and the chief executive officer of Star India is quoted as saying in The Economic Times.

The IBF is reportedly planning to appeal against the notification, as a number of broadcasters questioned why TRAI is not solely concentrating on implementing the digitisation of cable networks to ensure broadcasters benefit from greater income from subscriptions, rather than restricting TV advertising.

"Most broadcasters of news and non-news channels will challenge the TRAI regulation," Sunil Lulla, a director of the News Broadcasters Association, and managing director and chief executive of Times Television Network, told Live Mint. He has publically stated self-regulation by broadcasters on the issue of advertising is the best way forward.

The Standards of Quality of Service Regulations 2012, which TRAI issued on 14 May, state: "Any shortfall of ad duration in any clock hour cannot be carried over."

The regulations also state that advertisements during live sporting events are to only be carried during breaks in the action, and part-screen and drop-down commercials – often run during news and sports programmes - will be prohibited.

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