Update: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has stated that TRAI can either amend the existing regulations or create a new regulation within the next three months on the duration of advertisements in television channels, reports Moneycontrol.com. In addition, TDSAT stated that broadcasters are free to contest the regulations once it is finalized, following which the tribunal will look into the issue of whether TRAI has jurisdiction on this matter or not.

During the case hearing, TRAI’s counsel Saket Singh reiterated that it will not take any action against the broadcasters until the new regulation is released by the authority.

Earlier (Aug 29)The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued an amendment to the regulations related to the duration of advertisements in television channels for broadcasters, making a few changes to the regulations which were issued in May 2012. These changes include:

– Removal of Time Gap Between Breaks: According to the new amendment, TRAI has now removed the clause in the regulations which mandated broadcasters to maintain a minimum time gap of 15 minutes between any two consecutive advertisement breaks (i.e. from the end of one advertisement session to the start of the next advertisement session during a programme).

– Carry Forward of Leftover Advertisement: TRAI also stated that the duration of advertisements in the TV channels should still not exceed 12 minutes per clock hour, but advertisers can now carry forward leftover advertisement duration (if any) to the next hour. The organization had previously stated that leftover advertisement duration (if any) in any clock hour will not be carried over to the next hour.

– Broadcasters to Submit Ad Details: Besides this, TRAI has also added an additional reporting requirement to the regulations, mandating all broadcasters to submit the details of advertisements carried in their channel to the TRAI in the format specified by them, within 15 days from the end of a quarter and the first such report should be submitted by Jan 15, 2013, containing information from the quarter ending December 31, 2012.

TRAI regulations: In May 2012, TRAI had issued regulations regarding ‘Duration of advertisements in television channels’ to all broadcasters, after several complaints from subscribers on the increasing duration and distracting formats of TV ads which had affected the TV viewing experience. These regulations were formed after inviting comments & counter-comments from various stakeholders like consumers, consumer organisations and cable operators on a consultation paper released in March 2012.

TRAI vs Broadcasters: TRAI had initially stated it intends to strike a balance between providing a good TV viewing experience to consumers and protecting the commercial interests of TV broadcasters through these regulations. However, broadcasters contested these regulations in The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). In a statement to the Economic Times, Star India CEO Uday Shankar had stated that TRAI had no jurisdiction in this subject and is simply overstepping its mandate, since advertising is governed by the Cable and Satellite Act, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

A month later, TDSAT stayed TRAI’s regulations until the case hearing in July 2012. During the case hearing, TRAI stated that it was open to talks with broadcasters regarding the issues raised by them in the regulations and amend them suitably, as indicated by an Economic Times report. It had also assured TDSAT that it would not implement this order and force broadcasters to comply with these regulations until the next hearing scheduled for August 30, 2012.

DownloadAmendment (pdf) | Original Regulations (pdf)