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Government may ban surrogate liquor, tobacco ads

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Government may ban surrogate liquor, tobacco ads

The government may clamp down on television channels beaming surrogate advertisements of liquor and tobacco brands soon. However sources say, the government is almost ready with a code banning surrogate advertising for broadcasters.

The code, which is being formulated by senior government officials, will specify the definition of surrogate ads, details on compliance norms and penalties for violators.

Earlier, in the year 2000, a group of broadcasters had submitted its recommendations on surrogate ads to the I&B ministry, but the government did not act on the same. As per the recommendation, advertising for a product from the stable of liquor/tobacco companies, which do not have a minimum turnover of Rs 1 crore and where the products are not manufactured in bulk quantity, would fall under the surrogate advertising net.

While liquor and tobacco advertising is completely banned under the Cable Act, surrogate advertising is a convenient way to to push their brands. Significantly, broadcasters had also submitted a proposal to the government to allow them to use socially responsible ads sponsored by liquor companies.

A committee of broadcasters headed by the then I&B special secretary R R Shah, had recommended to the government that socially useful advertisements sponsored by liquor companies should be allowed on TV channels.

It may be noted here that the Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) had over ten years ago also formulated a set of norms on liquor and tobacco ads, including one on surrogate advertising. But the government has often been criticised for being lenient with manufacturers and broadcasters, as it gets massive tax revenues from tobacco and liquor sale.

Source: Financial Express


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