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Centre moves SC for ban on poll ads on TV

01-April-2004
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Centre moves SC for ban on poll ads on TV

The government’s appeal, moved by the information and broadcasting ministry, revolves around the argument that a ban on political advertisements in TV would minimise money power in the election process. The appeal refers to “distortion of electoral process by money power” as “negation of democracy.” The Andhra HC had said that the rule (as in the Cable Network Regulation Act) was discriminatory for TV channels, as the print media is free to carry political advertisements. The order was passed based on a petition filed by the Gemini Television Network which challenged the rule 7 (3) of the Cable Network Regulation Act. According to sources, Gemini TV secured a caveat, ahead of government moving the apex court.

The Rule 7 (3) of the Cable Network Regulation Act states: “No advertisement shall be permitted, the objects whereof, are wholly or mainly of a religious or political nature; advertisements must not be directed towards any religious or political end.”

India is not the only country to have a law which bans political advertisements on TV. Among others, Britain too does not permit political advertisements in the electronic media. The government official said that political parties and individuals with greater resources should not have an edge over others, as TV commercials are much more expensive than print advertisements. The SLP states that the Andhra HC overlooked the fact that a ban on political advertisements on TV does not restrict political debate. The petition even offers examples of political debate programmes on TV.

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