TV channels telecast more ads than actual content!!
If you are planning to watch a three-hour movie on any of the General Entertainment channels (GEC), be ready to sit for an hour extra. Or, rather if you expect to watch your favourite program for an hour, be mentally prepared to just get 40 minutes of the same. This extra time or less content is not because of any special screening or content crunch, but rather due to influx of heavy commercials every now and then. Television commercials have become an indispensable part of any television program, be it sports, movies, serials, cartoon or even news. Sometimes the frequency of commercial is so high that the actual essence of the program gets badly diluted. The importance of commercial can be measured while watching any cricket match, where broadcaster tries to shove as much commercial as possible, even between the change of over!!
It's not that there is no regulation on such activities. In spite of I&B Ministry’s amendment in the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 about the advertisement frequency, broadcasters incorrigibly and casually ignore (and abuse) the same. The new rules now reads as “…no programme shall carry advertisements exceeding twelve minutes per hour…”. Even after such staunch regulation (obviously on papers), the channels don't hesitate to show an average 20 minute (33 per cent) of advertisement per hour on regular basis, proves reports by TAM Media Research.
However, the scenario worldwide is quite converse. In US, a typical 30-minute block of time now includes 22 minutes of programming and only 8 minutes of commercial. EU has went a step further and limits the commercial breaks to 12 minutes per hour with a minimum segment length of 20 or 30 minutes, thus to maintain the continuity of the telecast. While BBC doesn't generally air advertisement in UK, same can be iterated for Asian countries. Malaysia limits its commercial duration to 5 minutes, while Philippines has only 18 minutes per hour commercial slot. Likewise, in Canada and Australia, advertisements may appear only prior to the closing credits of a program.
With television ad volume growing at 25-30 per cent every year (currently worth around Rs 7000 crore), broadcasters leave no option to give space to commercials, even if they have to compromise with the content or squeeze the actual airing hours. If you think this is it when it comes to cheating on consumers’ time and money, then one should try to locate in-program advertisements. There are blatant violations of the Cable Rules channels regularly (especially news channels) through use of the lower part or some corner of screen to telecast ads along with the on-going program. Let's put things into perspective. With an average monthly subscription rate of minimum Rs 200 for normal channel and with around 64 percent of all TV households opting for pay TV option, broadcasters are virtually engulfing a large pie of their broadcaster’s subscription charges. In simple words, when one pay Rs.200 to watch 720 hours of his favourite program, he actually is able to watch only 460 (65 per cent) hours or rather shall I say programs worth just Rs 130. With more than 77 million subscribers expected to opt for this pay channel service (as this is for sure to happen), the bottom-line of broadcasters are surely to see a new peak. This modus operandi is nothing but apathy towards consumers and abuse of the regulation. I actually conjecture when the Indian broadcasters will implement the regulation written on paper. Until then, what Indian viewer gets to watch actually is an advertisement program with some content between the breaks!