Thursday, 31 October 2013

Consumer object dilution of Ad Regulations by TRAI

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Wednesday (30 October 2013) issued a notice to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on a petition demanding the proper implementation of advertisements on cable and satellite television channels including some clauses that were earlier deleted by TRAI from the Quality of Service Regulations on Ad durations 
TDSAT will hear the appeal separately and not with appeal by the News Broadcasters Association. Trai had taken some television channels to court for not following the 12 minute advertising cap per programming hour mandated by law. Television channels had appealed in TDSAT and the matter is to be heard again.

Consumer group MediawatchIndia has approached TDSAT with an appeal seeking to ‘remind Trai of its statutory responsibility to check the illegal and unfair practices of television broadcasters who had been indulging in ‘part-screen’ and ‘high-decibel’ ads.’ The consumer group has complained that commercials played during programmes have a higher decibel level than the programme they are interrupting. Besides, both commercials as well as promotions of other shows crawl on the screen in the middle of programmes affecting the quality of viewer experience.
Mediawatch in its appeal had “challenge (d) the abrupt, unilateral and mala fide act of Trai in omitting subregulations 3(5) & 3(6) Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) Regulations, 2012. that deal with “distracting formats of advertisements (part-screen and drop down ads, scrolls etc. interfering the main programme)” and “loud commercials (high audio levels of advertisements vis-à-vis that of programme).”
Now on one hand news broadcasters and some other broadcasters have appealed against any cap on ad duration, on the other consumers do not want these broadcasters to harass them with screens full of noisy ads and disturbing crawlers. It will also be difficult for TDSAT to decide on the issue as it has the powers only to adjudicate the TRAI regulations but 10+2 minute ad cap is already a notified rule in the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Rule 1995.
Mediawatch had earlier in June made a representation before the ministry of information and broadcasting requesting action on the issue.


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