How many advertisements should TV channels allow during programmes?
A cricket-fanatic friend of mine opted for a package from his service provider, by paying more, specifically to watch the cricket matches being broadcast exclusively by a television channel.
A few days later, he was grumbling about his decision. I thought the channel had probably been removed from the bouquet.
However, his gripe was about the numerous advertisements shown during the programme, which spoilt the continuity and thus, the spirit of the game.
Well, this is something that all of us face every day, and more so on festival days — a two-and-a-half-hour movie goes on for more than five hours, that, at times, we even tend to forget the story line.
It is understandable that sponsors and advertisers are the main source of income for television channels. We also know that advertisements are screened during programmes to grab the attention of the audience.
But, they should not dominate the programme, inconveniencing viewers, especially those who pay to watch their favourite shows!
Many countries regulate the frequency in which advertisements can be aired.
For instance, in New Zealand, all major television channels, whether State-owned or private, can screen advertisements for only 15 minutes in an hour. Also, TV advertisements are banned on days such as Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Sunday mornings. In the Philippines, advertising is self-regulated by individual broadcasters, and they limit advertising to 18 minutes an hour.
Less frequent breaks
Similarly, in many European countries, television advertisements appear in longer but less frequent breaks. However, the European Union legislation limits the time taken by commercial breaks to 12 minutes an hour, with a minimum segment length of 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the programme content.
Malaysia, South Korea, Germany and a few other countries also have specific regulations in place.
Therefore, it is surprising that our regulators have not paid attention to this aspect, especially when cable television and DTH networks have reached even remote villages.
It is high time that due consideration was given to this issue and the frequency of advertisements aired during programmes regularised.
(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details/queries, contact 24914358/24460387 or firstname.lastname@example.org)