In a recently held interactive session between the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), Government officials and Jean Pierre Teyssier, President, European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), many areas regarding self- and co-regulation in advertising were discussed. The session stressed on the need to have credible juries and comprehensive national codes to ensure no violation of set standards within the advertising industry.
In his introductory presentation, Bharat Patel, former ASCI Chairman and Chairman of P&G, said, “The advertising self-regulation scenario in India started 23 years ago, and today comprises 248 members, who account for two-third of the total advertising value created in the industry. Today, it is absolutely imperative for members to stick to principles of the ASCI Codes and ensure that their works best reflect the genuine identity of brands.”
Patel further said that it was becoming difficult at times to impose intervention because of difference in Codes as per different departments of the Government. “The good thing is that ASCI today is represented in all committees working on advertising content, and also now the violation of the ASCI Code is regarded as the violation of the Cable Television Act,” he pointed out.
EASA President Teyssier began his presentation by emphasising on the need for self- and co-regulatory regimes at a national level. “Regimes should be formed in such a manner that they are accepted by all stakeholders, and also such that they provide effective enforcement,” he said, adding that industry support was a key to self-regulation without which it became difficult to instill credibility among all members.
Commenting on an ideal regulation, Teyssier explained, “Effective open and credible self-regulation must ensure comprehensive geographical coverage;
involvement of stakeholders, credible juries, compliance, pro-active self-regulatory systems, and relevant and comprehensive national codes.”
Commenting on the European scenario, Teyssier said that advertising in the continent was under pressure, and that regulatory bodies became the scapegoat for societal pressures. He also pointed out that advertising was becoming more and more difficult with agencies having to ensure effective communication while maintaining high level of transparency in their communication.
Teyssier added, “EASA is a partnership between industry and self-regulatory organisations to promote responsible advertising through best practices in self-regulation across single market for the benefit of both consumers and the advertisers.”
Uday Verma, Additional Secretary, I&B Ministry, said, “Self-regulation is a reflection of a very mature sector. As far as ASCI is concerned, Section 7 of the Cable Television Act gives teeth to self-regulation. Its only limitation is that it is applicable to only cable television.” He further explained that the challenge was to protect people in smaller towns and cities, who might be misled by the advertiser’s communication, given the fact that there is an explosive media growth in this country.