TRAI brings consultation paper to address issues related to T.V advertising

Television advertising attracts the major share of total advertising revenues. Television channels are pushing more and more frequent commercial breaks to book higher revenues. Longer duration breaks, frequents breaks and screen capture advertising are making television viewing a painful experience for television audience. Earlier there were commercial breaks during a program but now it seems viewers get to watch program in between the commercials. TRAI in response to consumer complaints and opinions on increasing duration and distracting formats of advertising has floated a consultation paper to discuss theissues related to advertisements in television channels in the country and bring out a proposal for regulation of duration and format of advertisements.

In the consultation paper TRAI has made following proposals to regulate the advertisements on television and asked for comments and suggestions from various stakeholders.

1) The limits for the duration of the advertisements shall be regulated on a clock hour basis i.e. the prescribed limits shall be enforced on clock hour basis.

2) No FTA channel shall carry advertisements exceeding 12 minutes in a clock hour. For pay channels, this limit shall be 6 minutes.

3) The 12 minutes of advertisements will not be in more than 4 sessions in one hour. In other words, there will be continuous airing of the TV show for at least 12 minutes each. Not more than three advertisement breaks shall be allowed during telecast of a movie with the minimum gap of 30 minutes between consecutive advertisement breaks.

4) In case of sporting events being telecast live, the advertisements shall only be carried during the interruptions in the sporting action e.g. half time in football or hockey match, lunch/drinks break in cricket matches, game/set change in case of lawn tennis etc.

5) There shall only be full screen advertisements. Part screen advertisements will not be permitted. Drop down advertisements will also not bepermitted.

6) In so far as News and Current Affairs channels are concerned, they are allowed to run not more than two scrolls at the bottom of the screen and occupying not more than 10% of the screen space for carrying non-commercial scrolls, tickers etc.

7) The audio level of the advertisements shall not be higher than the audio level of the programme.

There is no doubt that television viewing is now relegated to channel surfing only. With so many commercial breaks there is general proclivity for eternal surfing to find a channel with some program. And when you get lucky to find a program youlike very soon that channel breaks into another commercial break and the cycle continues. And even during programs channels are finding new and irritating ways to capture eyeballs with multiple scrolls and screen captures. In such a scenario TRAI’s suo moto effort to regulate advertising issues for making television experience better is welcome and commendable.

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