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Jio and Airtel brawl over SC order on IPL ads

21-May-2018
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Jio and Airtel brawl over SC order on IPL ads

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm engaged in a fresh fight over a Supreme Court verdict relating to the Indian Premier League (IPL) multimedia advertising campaign, according to media reports.

Bharti-Airtel issued a statement that the country’s apex court had dismissed Jio’s petition challenging a May 10 Delhi High Court order granting Airtel a partial reprieve over its IPL advertising campaign. Jio however rubbished the claim, and accused the Airtel of indulging in “blatant falsity” and making incorrect and misleading statements to the press” about the day’s Supreme Court proceedings on the IPL advertising case.

The dispute began over Bharti Airtel’s multimedia campaign offering subscribers live and free coverage of the cricket league’s matches on its network through the Hotstar app. Jio had originally moved the high court on April 13 against Airtel, claiming the latter’s ad was misleading and deceptive as it failed to inform customers about hidden costs of data usage. Airtel, in turn, had then countered, saying its advertisements mentioned that data consumption would be charged as per a subscriber’s plan.

An Bharti Airtel spokesman said, “the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition of Reliance Jio, which had filed a special leave petition (SLP) against the order of the division bench of the Delhi High Court, which had set aside the single bench order of the Delhi HC.”

Jio, however, refuted the market leader’s claim, alleging that “Airtel in a blatant falsity” had incorrectly stated that “Jio’s petition has been dismissed”.

“Reliance Jio would like to clarify the correct position. The Supreme Court on Friday disposed off the SLP filed by Jio against Airtel, and in fact, allowed the same in directing Airtel to comply with the order of the Ld. Single Judge of the Delhi High court, April 13, to the effect that it must run a bold disclaimer in its IPL “live and free” advertisements across all forms of media including electronic media clarifying that data download charges apply,” a Jio spokesman said in a written response according to media reports.

Airtel on its part, said “the only piece that the Delhi High Court division bench had retained was the concession agreed to by Airtel of having the disclaimer in font size 12 instead of 10 in the newspaper advertisement”.

However, the Jio spokesman said the Supreme Court “explicitly negated the order” of the Delhi High Court division bench that “the disclaimer should be limited to print media, and “upheld Jio’s contention that Airtel has to run the disclaimer across all media”.

Accordingly, Jio said it is “hopeful that Airtel will now adhere to and abide by the Hon’ble SC order and qualify its advertising campaign across all media by informing consumers of the correct position of charges payable by them, which in its initial form wilfully misled the subscribers to believe access to Hotstar and data charges are free”.

A copy of the Supreme Court order was not available.

A Delhi High Court division bench on May 10 had set aside an earlier May 2 order that had directed Airtel to make changes in its IPL advertisements across platforms. A single judge bench of the court had asked Airtel on May 2 to display the disclaimer in a bigger type screen size across ads in print and TV as well as outdoor hoardings.

But Airtel had contested the May 2 order on the disclaimer for television and video ads before a larger division bench, which on May 10, ruled that the bigger type sizes were to be carried only in print ads.

Both Airtel and Jio are betting big on this IPL, which is tipped to attract 700 million viewers, and have rolled out advertisements and content-driven partnerships to elicit maximum attention, including a tie-up with Hotstar for live coverage.

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