In this fiercely competitive genre, news channels have been scrambling to limit their losses. Running lots of ads per hour has been one way of doing that. On an average, Hindi and English channels run between 20-25 minutes of advertising per hour - twice as much as is proposed.

What will happen once the new rules are imposed? The bigger channels are optimistic that it will clear the field by destroying the fringe players who run a high proportion of ads because their rates are so low, sometimes as little as Rs 200 per second. If some go under, it will allow the serious players to - hopefully - raise their rates. According to some estimates, the ad inventory in the news genre will crash by 60-80 per cent.

There is one counter argument which runs that the 'frivolous' players will not go bust because they are not in the television business to make ad-based profits in the first place. Politicians and real estate players, among others, have floated news channels in most languages because it gives them clout.

Smaller advertisers, who used the less known news channels to advertise, may find the going tough. They will have to increase their ad spend or look beyond the genre to get their message across.

In these uncertain times, the gradual decline in carriage - or distribution - fees because of digitisation will bring some consolation to news channels.