I&B Minister Ambika Soni and Prof KV Thomas, Minister of State, Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution, have asked the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to further improve the self-regulatory mechanism by speeding up the processes and compliance of its codes for advertising content.
Speaking at a conference organised by the advertising body in Delhi on November 17, 2011, both ministers also recognised the commendable work done by ASCI in creating best practices through its self-regulatory mechanism and various codes of conduct in advertising content.
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.
Soni urged ASCI to speed up its mechanism to review consumer complaints on misleading advertisements, thereby making the self-regulation machinery more effective. She also added, “Self regulation is an evolving system in response to the growing aspirations of the consumer or the common man. Advertising is the principle motivator of growth in consumer demand, thus making the role of a creative person extremely significant. The current Self Regulation mechanism has evolved as a result of the concern shown by the consumer. The key intention here is that all of us should sensitise ourselves to ensure that 1.2 billion people can enjoy the freedom entrusted to us.”
Prof Thomas remarked, “We are reviewing consumer complaints on misleading advertisements and debating how to manage this issue. In this process, we are considering a legal requirement as well as an inter-ministerial committee to look into the issue of misleading and false advertisements. We are open to working with ASCI for a collaborative effort to take this entire matter forward.”
I Venkat, Chairman, ASCI, updated the assembly on the various initiatives undertaken by the body in recent times. He said, “As part of our evolving self-regulatory system, we have increased the frequency of our Consumer Complaints Council’s (CCC) meetings to twice a month since November. The Fast Track service announced recently has already received positive response. CCC has already reviewed eight advertisements until now under the Fast Track system. The support we expect from the Government will ensure that ASCI continues to create global standards and international benchmarks in self-regulation of advertising content.”
The Conference also comprised three technical sessions to discuss issues and solutions related to (i) Decency in advertising, (ii) Honesty and truthfulness in advertising, and (iii) F&B Advertising. Each interactive session had speakers representing industry, regulators and activists and was moderated by TV anchors with expertise in the field of advertising.