afaqs!

Bengaluru on a hoarding regulation spree

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | September 16, 2008
BBMP authorities become stricter with the ban on hoardings

After the & #BANNER1 & # Chennai hoarding ban, which was upheld in April, Bengaluru was the next city to feel the heat. The authorities pulled up their socks and took the action of not issuing new permissions for hoardings.

The city, which is divided into four zones, A, B, C and D, is now seeing restrictions in Zones A and B - 10 roads in Zone A and nine roads in Zone B. However, permits will be issued for advertisements on 71 roads in Zone C and 72 roads in Zone D.

The premises of the Karnataka High Court, the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikasa Soudha, the Legislators' Home and the Karnataka Public Service Commission have been declared advertisement free zones.

BS Yeddyurappa, the chief minister of Karnataka, instructed the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) not to issue fresh permits for putting up advertisement hoardings on the 19 roads, or renew existing permits. The existing hoardings will be allowed on these roads till their permits expire.

Yeddyurappa recently shared with the media that the BBMP will evolve a comprehensive policy to regulate advertisements and earmark places for them.

The hoardings fetched Rs 6 crore in revenue for the BBMP in 2006-07 and Rs 91 crore in 2007-08. This will cross Rs 100 crore in the current fiscal year. The government has also decided to build 1,400 bus stops, 53 skywalks and a number of toilet blocks in Bengaluru, which can be used as advertising space.

afaqs! spoke to a few media owners in Bengaluru to understand the scenario:

Raj Bhattacharjee
Raj Bhattacharjee, assistant vice-president, business development, Serve & Volley, says, "It's not a ban as such. There are only restrictions in two zones, which consist of about 19 roads."

He feels that this is a good move as a number of fly by night operators have come up. "This is a shakedown of the industry and consolidation is happening. People with one and a half hoardings call themselves media owners. This is a good move through which big media owners will do well," he says.

He is confident that Serve & Volley's business has not been affected as they have a good mix of sites among the four zones.

Surender Nath, chief operating officer, Prakash Arts, insists that this is not a ban, but just the authorities becoming stricter with the norms that were put into place two years ago. He says, "The authorities are just insisting that the existing rules be followed and illegal hoardings removed."

As of August 8, there were 2,789 authorised hoardings, 363 unauthorised hoardings and 142 hoardings involved in litigations in the city.

BS Sujay
Sujay Advertising, a leading player in OOH in Bengaluru, has seen a slump of about 20-25 per cent in its business. BS Sujay, managing director, Sujay Advertising, says, "The media owners in the city have been faced with this situation several times in the past. The arbitrary behaviour of the authorities has once again exposed their lack of understanding of the business. The situation is more like a tornado settling down, just to resurface. The feeling has been mixed - some feel that it is only a scare strategy for personal benefit and the others fear the worst to come."

In his opinion, there are no major problems except the non-implementation of the existing by-law. He thinks that the existing by-law, which was formulated after nearly four decades, has substantial teeth to ensure and achieve what is being discussed now, including aesthetics, freedom from clutter and appropriate sizes.

New norms may also be put into place. Sujay says, "We have been informed of the same, but we are yet to see the initiation of the process. Practically, the new norms should be in the implementation stage at least two-three months before the existing permissions end, that is, June 30, 2009. We only hope that the authorities will apply their minds to the entire process and include some of the industry veterans who are genuinely interested in the industry's growth."

Zone A
The 10 roads that come under Zone A are Kumara Krupa Road; Windsor Manor Junction to Shivananda Circle; Raj Bhavan Road; High Grounds to Minsk Square; Ambedkar Veedhi; KR Circle to Infantry Road Junction; Post Office Road; KR Circle to SBM (KG Road); Chalukya Circle; Maharani's College Road; KR Circle; the environs of Cubbon Park and Lalbagh; Nrupathunga Road; KR Circle to Police Corner Junction; Palace Road; and SBM Circle to Chalukya Circle.

Zone B
The nine roads under Zone B are Sheshadri Road; Racecourse Road Junction to KR Circle; Kamaraj Road; MG Road to Dickenson Road Junction; Queen's Circle to MG Road Junction; Minsk Square to Dickenson Road Junction; MG Road; Brigade Road; MG Road to Residency Road Junction; RV Road; Commercial Street; and Residency Road to Vellara Junction.

The authorities plan to further restrict business through a by-law that will terminate all small time and new entrants and encourage the ones with deeper pockets. The media owners who foresee this are looking at alternative business opportunities. The larger players may be looking at joint ventures to consolidate.

Other formats such as road medians, kiosks on electric poles, bus shelters, bus wraps and gantries are the alternative OOH media that are in focus.

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