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Delhi High Court tells Airtel to change IPL ad after Jio plea

14-April-2018
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Delhi High Court tells Airtel to change IPL ad after Jio plea

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked Bharti Airtel to alter its IPL ad campaign. The order was issued in response to a petition filed by Reliance Jio that alleged that Bharti Airtel was misleading consumers.

Bharti Airtel’s recently launched 360-degree advertising campaign claims to offer the T20 IPL matches ‘free’ and ‘live’ to its subscribers. The company has a strategic partnership with Hotstar to bring digital content from Hotstar's portfolio to Airtel customers. This includes live content such as Vivo IPL 2018. The campaign in question promotes this content sharing between Hotstar and Airtel.

In the plea, Jio claimed that Airtel is misleading consumers by suggesting that subscribers could live-stream the IPL matches free of cost. Jio argued that the ad does not mention that subscribers will incur data charges.

Jio alleged that the ads are “deliberately deceptive, misrepresenting and misleading in their content since the subscriber wanting to watch T20 matches on his electronic device, will doubtless incur charges for data being consumed to download/ live stream the T20 cricket matches as per the data download charges/plan availed of by the subscriber, thus it is not free by no means.”

A senior counsel representing Airtel argued in the court that Jio is a “jealous competitor and what is meant by ‘free subscription’ is free subscription of HOTSTAR network and whereas the advertisement specifically provides if one intends to watch the game one has to use data as per the plan taken by him/her.”

According to the court order, obtained by exhange4media, Airtel has agreed to tweak its ad to include the following clauses: a) the subscription of Hotstar shall only be free; and b) the data charges will be as per subscriber’s tariff plan.

This is not the first time that the two telcos are sparring over advertisements. In 2017 Jio moved the Bombay High Court against Airtel and Ookla (global broadband speed tester) for running advertisements that claimed that Airtel has India’s fastest network.

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