A quick scan through the news channels reveals multiple tickers carrying either news capsules or ads running at the bottom of the screen. The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) is not happy with this and has put forward its concern to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA). The ISA objects to the channels using airtime purchased by its members to showcase 'breaking news', 'forthcoming programmes' and other ads at the bottom of the screen.
The ISA held a detailed meeting with the NBA and its members, including Times Now and NDTV, on December 16 last year to demand that there should be no scrollers or tickers running during the commercial breaks. In their defence, the broadcasters said that they are selling air time. The ISA, in its turn, argued that it is not only air time; the broadcasters are also selling a size of the physical space as television is an audio-visual medium.
to afaqs!, Deep Bisen, secretary general, ISA, says, "During ad breaks, the channels flash tickers giving news snapshots. Often, they have banners with the content at the top as well as at the bottom of the television screens. To make matters worse, there are tower ads on the sides of the screen that distract the viewers from the ads that are paid for by ISA's members."
He adds that sometimes, competitors' ads are flashed on the tickers. As a case in point, Bisen says, "Especially on CNBC, one can easily see that the screen size for the ads have been shrunk to accommodate the creepy-crawly scrollers."
As a result of the December meeting, Bisen informs that the NBA, in its communication, said that news broadcasters may carry news tickers or content text during ad breaks. However, no commercial message of any other advertiser may be carried during an ad break, whether as a commercial ticker, a bug or in any other form.
Also, news broadcasters may vary the size of the screen during ad breaks to accommodate news and information that are relevant to the viewers. However, there will be no intrusion into the screen space of the ad/commercials. If any format requires such intrusion, the clients/agencies concerned should have prior knowledge of it, so that they have the option to refuse advertising in the given format.
Broadcasters carrying tickers during ad breaks will compress the ad material suitably, not superimposing the tickers on it. Advertisers should supply regular un-compressed material so that it goes through the required compression. Specific cases of distortion should be taken up with the broadcaster concerned and may be referred to the NBA if there is no resolution.
The matter is still under discussion with ISA's media council and a decision is expected to be taken soon.
When afaqs! contacted Annie Joseph, secretary general, NBA, she said that the ISA has not formally approached the association. "Until they come to us, how will we address their issue?" says Joseph.