Speaking on the sidelines of an event here, the minister said news channels are seeking more time as revenues from the digitization process have yet to kick in. The Oct 1 limit could possibly be extended till December, he indicated.
The cable television digitization process in India is in its third phase. The second phase which ended on March 31, saw 78 percent of households in 38 cities going digital from analogue systems. The first phase covered the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Tewari said the ministry was working very actively with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to get a "roadmap" for phasing the ad time slots from 20 minutes per clock hour to a cap of 12 minutes.
"Subscriber revenues have not kicked in yet, we are in phase three of the digitization process," he said. He said news channels have one-tenth of the ad revenues as compared to general entertainment channels. "They want some more time till subscriber revenues kick in."
TRAI had last year announced a 12-minute cap on ads, which has to be implemented by Oct 1. News channels have appealed against the ruling to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
TRAI had notified the regulation in May last year after viewers complained about excessively long advertising breaks. The telecom regulator had besides capping the ad duration at 12 minutes per clock hour, also ruled that the minimum time gap between two consecutive ad breaks should not be less than 15 minutes. In the case of movies, the break should be a minimum of 30 minutes.
The cap was announced by TRAI as stipulated in the Cable TV Act 1995 and implemented as part of the Quality of Service (QoS) regulations. The ruling has been challenged by News Broadcasters Association (NBA) in TDSAT.
On July 17, TDSAT directed NBA to submit its appeal and has allowed TRAI two weeks to respond to the concerns raised.
Since July 1, broadcasters have reduced ads from 25-30 minutes an hour to 20 minutes for news channels and 15 minutes for non-news channels. From Oct 1, all channels, news and non-news, will have to implement a 12-minute per hour cap in keeping with the TRAI regulations.
Tewari has earlier said that digitisation has helped reduce carriage fees - the amount broadcasters have to pay cable companies for them to carry their channels.
The 12-minute cap has also prompted broadcasters to push ad rates. According to reports, the ad rates have gone up by 8-10 percent and are poised to rise to about 25 to 30 percent by October, when the cap has to be implemented.
--IANS (Posted on 14-08-2013)