No condom ad can be prohibited if the communication is fit for family viewing: ASCI
The recent ban on airing condom ads during TV primetime has once again raised the pitch about issues like creative freedom and moral policing. While some people have termed this move as regressive, others see it as something that upholds our cultural ethos. It must be mentioned that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry recently ordered almost 900 television channels to restrict the airing of condom commercials between 10pm to 6am and has warned of repercussions if the order is violated.
Speaking to exchange4media, Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said that this move was necessary because these ads were violating the code of self-regulation and were found objectionable by viewers on the basis of inappropriate content. âCondom as a product is permitted to be advertised but people had issues with the way communication was being done. It was not educational and some people had also raised objections regarding the content of the ads not being appropriate for children to view. ASCI does not decide what time the ads should be aired, it only looks at the content of the ads. We had recommended to the minister to take a policy decision that if a particular content is meant for adults to view and is not suitable for family viewing then such ads can be aired beyond 10 pmâ, said Purandare.
According to Purandare, ASCI's Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) recently received a number of complaints against the condom ads with explicit adult content being aired during family viewing hours forcing the body to take a stand against such ads. âWe are actually happy that this move will allow a kind of flexibility to the advertisers and, at the same time, will take care of grievances that complainants had against some of the advertisements. Rather than toning down all condom ads, airing them only after 10 pm is a win-win stand for all stakeholdersâ said Purandare.
One of the biggest criticisms of this move has been the stifling of creative liberty. There has also been an overwhelming reaction to this ban order with many equating it with moral policing.
Underlining ASCIâs stand on primetime viewing of condom ads, Purandare stated that ASCI would allow such ads provided the communication was fit for family viewing. âIf an ad is done appropriately for family viewing, I donât think anybody will have any complaint to begin with. The issue is with the handful of ads. I wonât call it moral policing, it is about age-appropriate communication. It is not appropriate for childrenâs sensibilities. We do get complains against the sanitary napkins and personal hygiene products for women etc and such complaints are not withheld because the way the ads are being shown has nothing crass or inappropriate about it.â
Purandare also said that ASCI stood for âadvertising with a conscienceâ approach and would like to open a dialogue with advertisers if need be to spell its stand on age appropriate advertising. âIn deciding whether any particular ad is acceptable or not, the criteria that we use is based on whether that particular ad is likely to cause any grave or widespread offense. If few people are feeling upset, it really doesnât matter. We will welcome any dialogue with the advertisers in case they wish to seek guidance from ASCI on this matter. We have assured that ads which are appropriate for family viewing will not be affected. No condom ad can be prohibited provided the communication is fit for family viewingâ added Purandare.
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