Highlights: TDSAT hearing on 12-minute advertising cap

The bench comprising of TDSAT chairman Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh will hear the case.

By Reema Sharma | Last Updated: Nov 13, 2013, 18:20 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Reema Sharma/Biplob Ghoshal

New Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) resumed hearing on the 12-minute cap by sectoral regulator TRAI on advertisements on television channels.

The bench comprising TDSAT chairman Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh is hearing the case. The hearing in the case had begun on Monday; today is the third round.

Yesterday, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, lawyer for the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which represents news channels, presented the clients’ side of view.

Three of country’s top entertainment networks are currently not following the 12 minute advertising per hour rule imposed by TRAI and instead airing 14 minute advertisements per hour.

As per industry experts, less than 15% of the 300-350 broadcasters currently comply with the rule set by the TRAI.

350 broadcasters operate 780 channels in India. TRAI had set the deadline as October 01, prescribing the channels to stick to Quality of Service (QoS) regulation, which mandates channels to show not more than 12 minutes of ad and promotional content per hour.

TRAI had also made it mandatory for broadcasters to provide details of commercials telecast every 15 days. However, TDSAT had exempted news broadcasters from submitting the weekly report to the TRAI. Though it had asked news broadcasters to "faithfully maintain record of the time of advertisement per hour for examination by the Tribunal at the time of hearing of the Appeal".

Zee Media has covered the hearing live. Highlights (Timeline: Latest on top).

• Hearing over for the day, to resume tomorrow

• If revenue generation from advertisement is less, the quality of programme will also go down. Therefore people will not watch the programme leading to the decline in channel TRP. This again will lead to further loss of ads.

• The cost of subscription of 200 different newspapers will be much more than the subscription of 200 news channels

• Loss of revenue has also resulted in laying off of news channel employees

• Lawyer urges that news channels be allowed to decide the time. For example during festivals channels should be free to increase the time slot. Simultaneously they can show no ads during night

• News channels ran Prime Minister's speech for one hour without any ads. Hence they lost 12 mins, but this can't be carried forward. And advertisers don't pay between 11pm and 6 pm

• If a newspaper wants to increase content, it can add more pages. But television can't add more than 24 hours in a day

• News broadcasters are selling ad slots at Rs 2,500 per ten seconds, whereas the entertainment broadcasters are selling the slot at Rs 2.5 lakh. Hence news channels should not be covered under the ambit of the new ad cap set by TRAI, though entertainment network can be covered under it

• TRAI's power are under 11(1) which are of recommendary nature

• It has no powers under 11B as we are not licensee but registered under broadcasters as desired by the government of India

• TRAI is not authorised officer as provided under section 2A

• TRAI derives no power from Cable TV Act

• TRAI has no power to frame rule as per regulation of January 9, 2004

• Lawyer refers to Bhartidasan University Vs AICTE, year 2001

• Rule 10 and rule 7-9 relate to the advertising code, dealt under ASCI code. Rule says that ASCI guidelines are incorporated into cable TV network rules

• Hearing resumes again

• Lunch break, the court resumes hearing after 2.30 pm

• When the network is being regulated by the ministry of broadcasting why do we need another watchdog to regulate? (NBA had argued yesterday that it is not under TRAI’s authority to regulate the content since the regulation power lies within the periphery of I&B ministry.)

• As far as newspapers are concerned, the ad content is not regulated, then why should the TV content be regulated via-a-vis ad cap duration? (The NBA had also argued that Neither the TRAI Act nor the Indian Telegraph Act, under which TRAI works, gives the regulator the powers to deal with content.)

• Can content of the news debate be decided if attracts the purview of quality of service

• License not required, only registration need to be done

• Newspapers, magazines are covered under press code Act 1867 (NBA had also argued that TRAI’s powers are only restricted to licensing and quality of services. )

• Annexure to the registration channel will only comply with program plus ad code

• Permission to TV news is referred where the details are required relating to above requirements

• License is the process to carry business otherwise it would be termed illegal

• TRAI has right only in distribution and not program

• TRAI has no role in uplinking process alone

• Counsel Anup J Bhambhani, appearing for the news broadcasters presents his arguments

• Hearing resumes