Friday, 5 April 2013

TRAI orders on advertisements

TRAI ordered all the TV Channels to restrict advertisements to 12 minutes per hour.  As I read it, I wondered how TRAI would push in this difficult legislation and also if TRAI had the power to do such a thing (as many broadcasters claimed that it didn't have).  Anyway i thought to myself that it would be wonderful if the quantum of advertisements can be reduced even a little bit. 

Gone are the days when we used to wonder how Star Network was surviving (during the start up of the cable revolution).  At that time most of the adverts were about STAR's own programmes.  Now that there are so many advertisements, it is difficult to follow your favourite programmes.  I always wondered the need for pay channels if we are being forced to watch so many adverts anyway.  There are some channels which are particularly harsh on viewers.  For example, I never watch the movies on Sony channels as they show too many adverts and as a result, the movie goes on late into the night (atleast my experience).  

But the sad part is that it doesn't make much difference to them for two reasons - one is that they are a big corporation and the second is that, i am anyway paying for that channel as it is part of a bouquet that i have selected.  The more  tech savvy might say that if viewers dont watch the channel, it might affect their TRP's and consequently the advertisement revenue  they command.  It may be True but as a Common man, I am not intrested or intellectual enough to understand all those issues.  I just want to have some quality viewing time for the money that i am paying (which is a decent sum at Rs/- 550 per month)Considering that some channels are charging more than Rs/- 10 per month per subscriber that's a lot of money (10 * a conservative 10 crore subscribers for major channels= 100 crores without even counting in any advertisements).  I dont have any qualms about channels earning money coz they are in business after-all but they should have an ear for the subscriber experience too.
They also must have safeguards to stop channels from cheating subscribers. Classic example is of advertisements eating into the first ball of an over in cricket OR the over zealous experiment of a channel to show a deferred telecast of an international match so that more adverts can be pumped in (the same telecast was also on fm radio and the match was over long before it finished on telly!!!)

I was further flummoxed after reading an article by Shri Edari Gopi Chand in the Hindu on 05 April 2013.  He brought out that the cap on advertisement duration to 12 minutes per hour is already a part of the advertising code i.e Rule 7(11) of the cable network regulation, 1994. 

The rule apparently reads as follows -" no programme shall carry advertisements exceeding 12 minutes per hour which may include upto 10 minutes per hour of commercial advertisements and upto 2 minutes per hour of self promotional programmes".  So, if the rule is already existing, then it is amply clear that TRAI was not trying to invoke some new clause.  Its just nobody cared till now!!!! Now that TRAI has come into the picture and trying to make the telly more friendly to the subscriber, its creating problems to the channels!!!  Its interesting to note that if such a rule existed all along, why it was never implemented?!!!
And also, if we are forced to watch advertisements on certain channels for nearly 30-40 % of the time, Isn't it more logical to make them free channels by showing adverts for  a few minutes more!!! Then even we will have no reason to complain!!!!

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