With TDSAT refusing to entertain petitions against the TRAI ruling on ad cap, High Court seems to be the only option left for broadcasters.
It all started when TRAI announced the deadline for the implementation of ad-cap (which means that any TV channel cannot put advertisements for more than 12 minutes per clock hour) as of October, 2013. Closely after that, the NBA decided to oppose the regulation since the (news) genre has the highest minutes of airtime currently.
In succession, four music channels (9XM, Mastii, B4U and MTunes) along with Sun Network (in individual petitions) had approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to put forward their argument against the restriction on the advertising time proposed by TRAI.
On Friday, December 6, the Supreme Court said that TDSAT is not authorised to admit petitions against the rules and regulations set down by TRAI. TDSAT's decision is the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling.
While nobody is able to officially comment on the matter due to its subjudice status as of now, one of the members of News Broadcaster's Association (NBA) and a top-level news executive implied that 'in business terms ad cap is not viable and hence we have to fight it.'
The issue of regulating airtime on television is one of the most important discussion points since early last year. The regulation is said to be hurting the television broadcast business as it is expected to decrease the revenues by about Rs 1000-1200 crore.
"Yes, NBA is moving to High Court in a day or two. Until the matter is sorted, we will not follow the TRAI ruling," a highly placed news executive told on condition of anonymity.
It was also learnt from a few news broadcasters that the president of the association, KVL Narayan Rao (executive chairperson, NDTV) is not in the country currently and that the decision of the association might wait until his return.
As far as music broadcasters are considered, one of the four music channels that had approached the court is planning to approach High Court.
It may be noted that as per the law, until HC proposes a date for hearing the petitions (if anyone files it), the channels will be expected to implement the regulation.
A music broadcaster, on the condition of anonymity, says, "It's impossible for the High Court to give us a hearing date overnight, neither is it possible for us to implement the ad-cap suddenly. We will have to wait till we hear back from the HC."