Over the years, Delhi has seen many ups and downs as an OOH market. Delhi Talks OOH - an event organised in the Capital on December 18 by VJ Media Works and sponsored by Pioneer Publicity - was an attempt to bring together the stakeholders to talk about specific issues plaguing the outdoor market in the city.
Amiya Chandra, additional deputy commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) set the tone for the event by chalking out the legal and the illegal. He averred that there should be strict adherence to Delhi's Outdoor Advertisement Policy; otherwise, things would be as bad as they were in 1997. On November 20 in that year, the apex court had banned hoardings on roads, holding them to be hazardous and stating that the safety of road users was paramount. The outdoor business in Delhi was literally breathing its last after that decision.
He went on to list the classification of OOH formats as per the policy. Category 1 includes large formats such as hoardings and unipoles; Category 2 includes ads mounted on public amenity surfaces and pole kiosks; Category 3 comprises transport infrastructure and landscaping; and Category 4 includes ads on devices attached to retail fascia.
"We are open to creative ideas from the agencies, but unfortunately, nobody has approached us with ideas for innovations for Categories 2 and 3," he added. Chandra cited many examples of innovations in international markets, which used environment-friendly technology as well.
According to him, the only solution to all these problems was self-discipline, boycott of illegal media and respect for the policy that is monitored by the Environment Pollution Control Policy (EPAC) and the Supreme Court jointly. He revealed that MCD also planned to hire retired commandos for monitoring.
Chandra said that media owners should "collaborate with MCD to plot, plan, grade, evaluate and standardise the location, size, design, and safety standards of ads."
He went on to explain the new system at MCD, as part of which a media owner providing amenities in not so preferred locations for advertising (for example, Shahdara) would be given some media in prime locations of South Delhi as a reward.
He expressed the desire of putting in place a coordination committee to ensure smooth functioning with sister organisations, such as New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC), Public Works Department (PWD), and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
In 2010, Delhi would host the Commonwealth Games; Chandra was quick to recognise this as an opportunity that would work wonders for the OOH business in the Capital. With a view to strengthen the city's infrastructure, MCD has floated a tender for 1,000 state-of-the-art toilets. Soon, there would be a network of 50 giant LED screens as well.
Interestingly, MCD has also worked on architectural models to set up tehbazari, a site for urban vendors in 12 zones of Delhi. Chandra asked outdoor media owners to help in setting up tehbazari and use the sites for putting up ads. He admitted that Delhi had a shortage of amenities and invited corporates and media owners to build, operate and maintain these in return for the ad rights.
"Recently, brands that put up illegal hoardings received legal notices along with photographs by the MCD; and this led to pulling back of these campaigns by the concerned companies voluntarily. MCD has set a standard by doing this," he said.
Gupta pointed out the failure of tender system, wherein bidders fill unrealistic rates and later fail to pay the amount to MCD. He added that DOAA should be consulted every time a media owner is registered with MCD. He also mentioned cases, where after a property is given to a media owner by MCD, certain authorities intervened and made things difficult. He suggested that in such situations, MCD should come to the rescue of the media owner.