While the controversy over whether the city’s first Metro will be known as ‘Mumbai Metro’ or ‘Reliance Metro’ has quietened down with the city’s development authority being firm on the former, there is now confusion between the authority and the Reliance Infra-led consortium in charge of the Metro over branding of stations on the metro corridor.
On Friday, Times OOH, an advertising agency of The Times Group, published a newspaper advertisement stating that it was e-auctioning the naming rights for 12 stations of the Mumbai Metro. According to the its website, the company has acquired advertising rights for the Metro for 15 years.
A source said while the names of the stations would essentially be the same as planned, these would be accompanied with a prefix of the highest-bidder’s brand name. The notice said the highest-bidder’s brand would get a mention on the main signage at the Metro station, in public announcements, on the main entry signage and route maps. The advertising agency refused to comment on the issue.
UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said the Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), the consortium in charge of the Metro, had never discussed this with the development authority. “I was surprised to learn about it. It was never discussed with us directly or indirectly. We will take it up with them. They do have rights for commercial exploitation of station areas and can engage a third-party agency for it, but we had thought it would be just boards, hoardings and illumination. I am not sure if this is permissible,” Madan told Newsline.
An MMOPL spokesperson said the advertising will not violate provisions of the concession agreement. “There is no change in the name of the station. The prospective advertisers will use their brand name or appearance at various locations without violating any applicable provisions in the concession agreement,” the spokesperson said.
The MMRDA and the Reliance Infrastructure-led MMOPL have been caught in a tussle related to naming of the line and advertising earlier as well. Until about two months ago, the MMRDA and Reliance Infrastructure were in conflict over the naming of the 11.4-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro. The development authority had written to the Anil Ambani-owned company, asking it to drop ‘Reliance’ from the Metro corridor’s logo, and instead call it Mumbai Metro.
“That issue has been sorted now. The line will be called ‘Mumbai Metro’ once it starts commercial operations,” Madan said.
Likewise, there was also a dispute over who would be permitted to exploit the advertising rights on the pillars of the elevated corridor. The MMRDA had gone ahead and invited proposals from parties interested in buying advertising rights on the pillars at a one-time premium, citing there is no mention of advertising rights over pillars in the concession agreement. However, the MMOPL had taken serious objection to this.