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ASCI move for more stringent self-regulation of ads

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ASCI move for more stringent self-regulation of ads

Are regulations going to get tighter around advertising? The answer seems to be pointing to ‘yes’.

In a move to strengthen Self Regulation of Advertising Content in India ASCI seeks to collaborate with Regulatory Authorities. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is currently seeking consultation and collaboration from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B), Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to support and encourage self regulatory mechanism on advertisement content.

As part of this focused effort with the government and civil society, ASCI is organizing a conference in the city, on November 17, 2011, titled ‘Strengthening Self Regulation of Advertising Content’, in which both the speakers and participants will comprise Regulators, Legislators, Activists and members connected with the advertising profession.

Commenting on its collaborative efforts, I Venkat, Chairman, ASCI said, “It has become necessary to make regulators, legislators, consumer activist organizations and advertising industry members be aware of the work ASCI is doing and motivate them to use ASCI’s services at all possible points to encourage the self regulatory mechanism on advertisements. We have invited Ambika Soni, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and Prof KV Thomas, Minister of State, Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution, along with other stakeholders on November 17 in Delhi to seek solutions on how to make the self regulatory mechanism of ASCI even more effective and efficient.”

When asked how important this issue was in today’s advertising scenario, ASCI Secretary General Alan Collaco explained, “We have many good companies that have stringent ethical norms in advertising. However, in a highly competitive market, there is a temptation to take shortcuts. As a result, every now and then there is the importance of self regulation.” He added, “We will take it up. It’s the best way to improve the credibility of advertisers in the eyes of the public.”

The conference will begin with an inaugural session when I Venkat, Chairman – ASCI, Ambika Soni and Prof K.V. Thomas will speak. This will be followed by three technical sessions to discuss issues and solutions related to (i) Decency in advertising, (ii) Honesty & truthfulness in advertising and (iii) F&B Advertising. Each Interactive Technical Session panel will have speakers representing Industry, Regulators and Activists and moderated by TV anchors with expertise in the field of advertising.

“In India we have high norms compared to other countries,” pointed out Collaco. In India there are several laws regulating the content of advertisements and the consumers are protected from misleading and deceptive advertisements through the enforcement of such laws. However, it has been observed that the initiative taken by the advertisers, advertising agencies, media and other concerned parties to impose self regulation on themselves through a voluntary code of conduct on the content of advertisements has resulted in institutionalising a robust self regulatory mechanism under the ASCI umbrella in its 26 years of service to the consumers and the advertising sector. It has not only addressed the issue of promptly resolving intra-company disputes on the content of advertisements, but also taken action on individual complaints on advertisements raised by citizens and aware consumers.

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, and global self regulatory organizations also have recognized the effective work done by ASCI in propagating global best practices through its voluntary code of conduct on advertising. Currently, the rules under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act state that no ad which violates the ASCI ad code can be carried on TV.

It was felt by all the stakeholders that it is now the most appropriate time to organise a national consultation by involving all the stakeholders, including the official regulatory bodies managing the content of advertisements.

ASCI’s conference on ‘Strengthening Self Regulation of Advertising Content’ will be held at the India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi on November 17, 2011.

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