ASCI’s moral policing a dangerous trend: Avinash Pandey, ABP News

Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News, believes that ASCI has infringed on commercial free speech by recommending the condom ad ban during TV primetime

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 8:53 AM

The condom ad ban during TV prime time hours (6 to 10 p.m.) seems to be snowballing into a major stand-off between broadcasters and regulatory bodies. 

Speaking to exchange4media about the stand that broadcasters have taken for condom ad ban, Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News says, “According to me it is completely illogical to ban the condom ads on TV till 10 p.m. In that way razors and shaving creams are not also for children. So, they should define their timings as well. And what will they do with the sanitary napkins? This ban is about infringement on the free commercial speech for a legitimate product. Most importantly, the government of India is investing crores of rupees to improve public health by promoting the use of contraceptives ad particularly condoms. How can they ban something like that?”

Pandey states that such a move will have a huge health impact. “I don’t think the government is responsible as much as ASCI is responsible. As per the reports that I read, ASCI has actually recommended the government to issue the directive. In my opinion ASCI oversteps its jurisdiction. Its role actually is to correct a commercial which does not believe in fair business practices. It is not supposed to dictate what time the ad should be scheduled, they have no jurisdiction on that,” he says.

Pandey also underlined that broadcasters were already following the code of conduct laid out by I &B and there was no need to recommend directives about banning ads.

“We all take licenses from MIB to run our channels and we have abided by the code of advertising and contract they give us. We follow the ASCI code. So since when has ASCI started advising when to schedule an ad? Moreover, in today’s world, when children are exposed to all kinds of content on internet, who are we trying to teach the morality?” says Pandey.

Calling ASCI move as “erroneous” Pandey further adds, “By diverting this query to I&B, I think I &B did what they thought is right. Actually, the judgment was already done by ASCI and I think it is not acceptable to any broadcaster because as stated it’s a direct infringement on the freedom of commercial speech. A body like ASCI which should believe in free commercial free speech is trying to become the moral police and that is a dangerous trend according to me.”

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