BMC unveils new, holistic draft on OOH advertising; welcomes public suggestion from July 5

This new policy comes in the wake of growing concerns about safety and visual clutter associated with billboards and hoardings, triggered by the most recent Ghatkopar billboard fall accident

Khushi Keswani
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New Delhi: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has unveiled a draft policy, set to be open for public suggestions from July 5, aimed at bringing order to the city's often-chaotic landscape of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising. The draft policy also brings other OOH formats under its purview.

This includes advertisements displayed on:

  • Business Premises: Signage on shops, buildings, and other commercial establishments will now be subject to regulations regarding size, placement, and content.
  • Skywalks and Foot Over-bridges: The policy sets a minimum distance of 10 feet for advertisements on these pedestrian walkways.
  • Stationary Vehicles: Vehicles used for advertising purposes, like parked vans or buses, will need to maintain a 30-meter distance from each other.

It goes beyond the previous 2016 requirement for a structural stability certificate. It proposes a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that emphasises the structural integrity and foundation of all hoardings. 

The draft policy introduces a range of measures to regulate OOH advertising in Mumbai:

Specified Minimum Distances: The policy mandates a minimum distance of 70 meters between large hoardings, 30 meters for stationary vehicles used for advertising, and 10 feet for skywalks and foot over-bridges. This replaces the previous uniform 100-meter rule, which didn't differentiate between types of OOH structures.

Safety and Transparency: The policy requires hoardings near high-tension wires to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the power company, while illuminated and digital displays need approval from the traffic police. Additionally, all hoardings must display QR codes providing information about the license, size, owner details, and validity period.

Enforcement and Accountability: The draft proposes fees for social messages displayed by government authorities and blacklisting of advertisers with frequent payment violations. The BMC has also directed license inspectors to submit reports on existing OOH structures, verifying size compliance, digital hoarding switch-off timings, and QR code presence.

Focus on Digital Signage: Digital billboards have become a popular advertising format, but their bright displays can contribute to light pollution. The BMC acknowledges citizen concerns and proposes restrictions on their placement, particularly in residential areas.  The draft mandates switching off digital hoardings by 11 pm, with enforcement measures to ensure compliance.

The policy explores innovative advertising options like mobile vehicles and water bodies. While floating advertisements on Mumbai's coastline are a growing trend, the BMC plans to regulate them carefully, balancing commercial interests with public safety and environmental protection.

The impetus for stricter regulations likely stems from a confluence of factors. The tragic incident in Ghatkopar this May, where a massive billboard collapsed during a storm, highlighted the potential dangers posed by poorly maintained OOH structures. The BMC actively sought expertise from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) and environmental research institutions. A committee formed with these experts, traffic police officials, and civic officers aims to develop guidelines that consider aesthetics, economic impact, and regulatory needs. 

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