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‘Bengaluru OOH will be back on track with large formats’

By Aayush Mohanan - April 25, 2023

Manmohan Singh, Secretary, Outdoor Advertising Association, Bangalore (OAAB) shares his perspectives on OOH prospects and re-introduction of large formats in the city of Bengaluru following the March 1, 2023 ruling of the High of Karnataka.

In a hearing on March 1, 2023, the High Court of Karnataka ruled clause 7.1.1 of the 2018 Bylaws as ‘arbitrary and unconstitutional’ and deemed it as unreasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of commercial speech, freedom to carry on business and the fundamental right of an individual to listen, read and receive commercial speech which are guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. 

Speaking on the hearing, Manmohan Singh, Secretary, Outdoor Advertising Association, Bangalore (OAAB) says the ruling addresses the concerns of media owners in the city and talks about the future of Bangalore OOH. Edited excerpts of the interview with Aayush Mohanan

When was the Outdoor Advertising Association, Bangalore (OOAB) formed and what is its purpose? 

The OAAB was formed a few decades ago. The association’s leadership is the main spokesperson for the industry and all interactions with the municipal authority and the concerned government department(s) in matters of policy formation and implementation of statutory rules and regulations from time to time. 

The association also takes up legal matters on behalf of its members with regards to these statutory laws and byelaws as also matters concerning the implementation of taxes, fee, etc. Primarily, the association is there to promote all types of legal OOH media while also curtailing and challenging all illegal activities and subversive methods in allotment and permitting OOH media in violation of the existing laws.   

What impact does this ruling have on the overall Bengaluru OOH market?

First, the ruling has struck down the ban on advertisement as enforced by the BBMP as illegal. Second, it has held the ban as violative of the constitutional rights of the OAAB and its members. Together, they uphold our Right to Display Commercial Advertisements within private properties and hold the actions of the BBMP as ‘bad in Law’. Once acted upon by the BBMP, commercial advertisements can be displayed within private properties which is the primary business model of our members in Bengaluru. 

Following the ruling, what would be the next steps for media owners and the BBMP, respectively? 

The BBMP has to act on the orders of the court within three months and frame rules or byelaws to facilitate the sanction of permissions to display commercial hoardings within private properties.  

With state elections due in Karnataka in May, do you think it will hamper the implementation timeline of three months as ordered by the High Court?

This is likely; however, our members are of the opinion that the regular day-to-day functioning of the municipal department has not been affected, hence the implementation of the court order should be done on time.

How do you think this ruling will affect investment into Bengaluru OOH market? 

Once the primary mode of OOH media is back in Bengaluru, namely large format hoardings / billboards, the market should be back on track and at par with the rest of the bigger OOH markets like Mumbai and Delhi. The present revenues are suppressed as media available on bus shelters, foot-over-bridge, toilets, etc. are not everyone’s cup of tea.


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