[MJR] Un-miserable about Trai’s ad regulations

17 May,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


This is actually an “un-grouse” – I go with the current zeitgeist and fascination with the un-dead (vampires) and the unlikely (werewolves).


Despite the criticism on MxMIndia.com yesterday over the TRAI regulations about ads on TV channels, needless to say, as a viewer I’m a bit un-miserable. I understand the need to make money and profits and all that but sometimes watching TV can be an unhappy experience.


TRAI has asked for commercial breaks to be limited to 12 minutes for every hour that there should be at least 15 minutes between consecutive breaks for programmes and every 30 minutes for movies. In addition, there are to be no part-screen or drop-down ads for live sports events. What’s to complain? It’s not as if the TV channels themselves don’t know how damn annoying constant ad breaks can be – they themselves advertise “break-less” movies as a cachet, as if the producer suddenly released a new uncut version of the film.


The worst transgressors are Indian general entertainment programmes. Producers shoot what seems to be about 10 minutes of programming for those popular soaps and serials and the rest of the time is spent on dramatic repetitions of the last two minutes that transpired before the 40-odd ad breaks. Obviously someone in TRAI (or their families) watches these serials.


There can be no one – except for some very brain-dead advertisers – who actually thinks that part-screen drop-down ads which mask action during a live sports events endears one to the advertiser. TRAI has only stated the obvious here.


News channels are no better in particular, NDTV and CNN-IBN. If you catch them on the half-hour or the hour, you can be treated to about 10 straight minutes of advertisement. I keep hearing about how news channels are financially precarious which only leads me to believe that they ought to charge more.


Times Now is terribly smart about this. During prime time, which is when editor-in chief Arnab Goswami conducts his nightly inquisition, there are minimum commercial breaks. The channel knows that people are watching for the drama and are not interested for the moment in Katrina Kaif having sex with a mango. TRPs skyrocket during Goswami’s Newshour (sometimes two hours) and Times Now knows that that benefit can be spread across the other hours of the day.


It must also pointed out that newspapers and magazines also operate under some restrictions about the editorial to ad ratio and this does not lead to general hand-wringing and despair.


Plus, it is also true that some ad breaks are necessary. You can make a few quick calls, run to the loo and check that the dinner is not burning. In between you might also decide that the Appy Fizz is indeed incredibly annoying and a talking soft drink should indeed be un-alive.


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