Mediaah! Broadcasters suffer with ad restrictions while print & web publishers have fun

16 May,2012

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

So the TRAI has finally chosen to subject the television channels to its regulation over ad duration in the guise of quality of service. Assorted politicians and consumer groups who’ve been complaining about the ads on telly should be happy, but I would see the development as unfortunate.

 

Yes, some of the practices adopted by our broadcasters are reprehensible. They deserve to be damned.  But should the government directly or via a regulator like TRAI be getting into the act? I don’t think it should.

 

Market forces will force channels to ensure viewer experience isn’t impacted beyond a point. In fact in the chase for ratings, the entertainment-wallahs have already done that.

 

My heart goes out to the news channels who are going to be impacted the maximum. Ads in the form of tickers etc amount to revenues of around Rs 100 crore across channels, I was told.

 

The battle is going to move to the Courts/TDSAT, I am told. I hope the learned souls there see reason.

 

What about other media?

If broadcasters get carried away with commercials and if the government and/or TRAI sincerely believe that they are taking consumers for a ride, then what about newspapers, radio and the internet?

 

Full page ads on Page 1, half-jackets, ads flowing through editorial… etc etc etc. All of this in print.  Radio has ads camouflaged as RJ mentions. On the web: innumerable innovations, site captures, interstitials, awful and annoying innovations done by some of the trade sites.  And then innumerable advertising mailers. I must add here MxMIndia too carries site captures and while we don’t send more 5-6 mailers or at most 10 a day, guess we’re getting there.

 

Now, other than our readers cursing the publications in question, there’s no one stopping the print and web players from carrying intrusive adverising. Also, the ad-edit ratio can well exceed 70-30 on big occasions like Diwali or Akshya Tritiya.

 

Wanted a top quality lobbyist for TV!

Perhaps the television industry must hire a top draw bureaucrat to lobby its case to the powers that be. The fact is that the Indian government policies are skewed against the television media. Even on issues like service tax, while advertisers don’t have to pay any levy for an ad in print, they’ve got to cough up the entire 12.36% for TV, the web and I guess radio too.

 

Even though television has some rather powerful players, it’s evident that the print folks command more respect. Or at least the government tries to not meddle in their affairs.

 

It’s not that established print players don’t have a broadcast interest… we have BCCL, India Today, ABP, Malayala Manorma, Lokmat, Sakal, Mathrubhoomi and Eenadu amongst others, but it’s just that they are more revered for print than television.

 

Now that INS president Ashish Bagga also heads up the TV Today Network as CEO of the India Today group and the MCCS channels are better integrated in the ABP group, perhaps the old warhorses must exert pressure.

 

Buzz me if you have a story to tell. Confidentiality assured. There are various ways you can reach me:

pradyumanm[at]mxmindia.com, BBM 23050B5D, Gtalk pradyumanm@gmail.com, Twitter @pmahesh and of course the mobile: 98338 76278.

 

Disclaimer: Although he is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of this site, Pradyuman Maheshwari’s views in Mediaah! are not necessarily those of the rest of the team and MxMIndia.com.

 

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