Ten Cricket has been asked to explain the violation of the Indian government's advertising codes during its coverage of the recently concluded series between India and South Africa. Acting on complaints received by consumers, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of India sent a show-cause notice to the channel regarding the intrusive advertisements during live telecast.
The channel, according to the government, has breached the advertising code which stipulates that the advertisement should be easily distinguishable from, and not interfere with, the programme.
"A show-cause notice has been sent to Ten Cricket channel regarding the violation of Rule 7 (10) of the Advertising Code as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 which provides 'all advertisement should be clearly distinguishable from the programme and should not in any manner interfere with the programme viz, use of lower part of screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme,'" Raghu Menon, the secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which formulates rules for broadcasting and advertising in the country, told ESPNcricinfo. "The ministry has received complaints about the advertisements interfering with the live telecast by using the sides, central and lower parts of the screen to carry the advertisements, thus reducing the visual frame of the main live telecast.
"The channel has been asked to show cause within seven days of the notice as to why action in accordance with the provision of the Uplinking Guidelines and Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 should not be taken against it."
Ten Cricket - a 24-hour cricket channel - is owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and was launched in August 2010. Among its recent cricket telecasts was Pakistan's Test and limited-overs series in the UAE against South Africa and India's full tour there which concluded earlier this month.
When asked by Harsha Bhogle, during ESPNcricinfo's fortnightly audio show Time Out, if the high prices of broadcasting rights were driving broadcasters to resort to intrusive advertising, Menon said: "Nobody's really stopping a channel from advertising at the end of an over. When you have advertising exploding out of the ground in the middle of an over, that is terribly intrusive and I don't think any viewer will appreciate that. That's really carrying it a bit too far.
"When a license is given to a broadcaster, for downlinking or uplinking or showing any programme, they are required to sign an agreement with the government and part of the agreement is that they will follow the program and advertising codes," Menon said. "To that extent, they are walking into the business with their eyes open and they are required to follow it, otherwise it amounts to a violation of the laws of the land."
When contacted by ESPNcricinfo, Atul Pande, the CEO of Sports Business, ZEEL, said he would respond once he'd received the show-cause notice, but added there was a lot of pressure on TV channels to generate revenue through ad sales due to the high cost of broadcasting rights as well as low subscription prices paid by consumers.