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Outdoor industry must protect the beauty of Bengaluru city: BBMP Commissioner

By M4G Bureau - September 10, 2014

In recent times, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has taken strident steps to regularise the outdoor media advertising in the city of Bengaluru. M Lakshminarayana, Commissioner of BBMP, firmly believes the industry has a vital role in preserving the beauty of the city. The Commissioner shares the civic body's outlook on outdoor media advertising in an interview with Rajiv Raghunath of Outdoor Asia. Edited excerpts:

The outdoor media in the city of Bengaluru is a revenue source for BBMP? What policy steps have you taken or plan to take to help the growth of this industry?

All necessary help is being provided by the Palike to enable the growth of the outdoor industry. Recently, while drafting the amendment to the Advertisement policy, we held a meeting with the industry players and sought their views on policy changes and tariff issues.

Benguluru has arguably the largest number of outdoor media properties, and with relatively high occupancy rates. What measures are needed to ensure a regulated growth of this industry, such that all key stakeholders - the civic authority, the industry, advertising brands, and consumers - benefit?

The most pressing issue for the civic authority in Bengaluru is the existence of a large number of unauthorised hoardings. The industry has to cooperate with the corporation to ensure that the beauty of the city is not lost in depicting the commercial hoardings for the benefit of the consumers.

The outdoor media is integral to the city infrastructure. As the city grows, there is an expectation that the civic authorities will also work towards the beautification of the city layouts. What role do you see for the outdoor media in any such city beautification drive?

There are already PPP models for maintaining the city infrastructure covering medians, circles, footpaths, toilets, etc. A large number of advertisers do cooperate with us. But in most cases, the commercial interests weigh over social interests and most people forget the aesthetics and greenery that the city needs. There should be some discipline coupled with genuine concern for the city.
Do you offer long-tenured contracts to the outdoor media?

We are indeed very keen to have long tenured contracts, provided the advertisers do give us good projects which can both be useful to the public and also to advertisers without compromising on revenues to corporation. If such proposals / projects are offered we will definitely consider them on priority.

The outdoor media lends itself to various innovations, some of which can be of great public convenience, like street furniture? In some cities, the civic bodies and outdoor media owners have entered into PPPs to develop public infrastructure that can also double up advertising formats. Are there any such plans in Bengaluru?

As said earlier, we are engaging with the industry to come up with citizen-friendly projects.

In many world capitals, digital screens are becoming popular with advertisers. What is your policy posture with regard to digital outdoor media? Is there a way in which digital outdoor media can be used on a bigger scale in Bengaluru without posing any undue risks to vehicular traffic / drivers on the road?

Digital screen advertising is still to pick up in the city. The Traffic Police and experts have to give their opinion regarding this.

There is an expectation that the outdoor media should adopt green practices including use of solar lighting? Have you taken any steps to encourage the use of alternative energy sources in this industry?

This is a question that the advertisers must address first. I think illumination with solar lighting can be considered. Technology will provide answers to these issues.

The outdoor media can be a powerful platform for communicating social messages, especially those related to education, healthcare, citizen security, and so on. Have you taken any initiatives in this regard?

Yes, already many programmes like Pulse Polio, Elections, New Policies, etc., have been communicated to the public through this media.

More recently, there was talk of BBMP regularising some of the unauthorised hoardings in the city, which will result in improved revenue flows to the authority. Could you please throw some light on this?

The matter is still with the Council and the Government.

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