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MIB mulls exempting FTA channels from 12-min ad cap rule

MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is contemplating removing the 12-minute ad cap restrictions for free-to-air (FTA) channels, says a report in Bengaluru-based English daily Deccan Herald.

“We will free all free-to-air channels from the 12-minute advertisement per hour rule,” a top official in the ministry told the paper.

The MIB will have to amend the Cable TV Network Rules (CTNR) 1994 to enforce the exemption of FTA channels from following the ad cap rule.

As per the Advertising Code under the CTNR, “no programme shall carry advertisements exceeding 12 minutes per hour, which may include up to 10 minutes per hour of commercial advertisements, and up to 2 minutes per hour of a channel’s self-promotional programmes”.

The FTA broadcasters have been demanding that they should be exempted from the ad cap rule as they are dependent on ad revenue for sustenance unlike pay broadcasters who also get subscription revenue.

The TRAI had notified Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) Amendment Regulations, 2013on 20 March 2013. The ad cap rule came into effect on 1 October 2013.

While leading broadcasters like Star India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), Viacom18, and Multi Screen Media (MSM) are following the ad cap rule, others like news, music and regional channels have challenged the rule in Delhi High Court, which will hear the case on 25 September.

The HC has directed TRAI not to take coercive action against the petitioners till final orders. The broadcasters are, however, required to submit weekly reports on their ad inventory consumption to the TRAI.