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Channels air surrogate ads despite ban

20-May-2005
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Channels air surrogate ads despite ban

Some of the larger channels felt that the earlier commitments made to the liquor companies must be fulfilled.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry may have banned surrogate liquor advertising, but top broadcasting companies such as Star India and Zee Telefilms have decided to fulfil their commitments made to the advertisers.

For the time being, these channels are airing commercials of liquor brand extensions. But others such as Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and movie channel HBO have taken the safer route by adhering to the Government diktat.

Sources in the broadcasting industry said, "Some of the larger channels felt that the earlier commitments made to the liquor companies must be fulfilled and, therefore, have not pulled out such ads."

However, a Sony official said, "As of now, we are not carrying any surrogate liquor ads and are not taking any bookings from these companies."

Even though the law prohibits direct advertising of liquor products, companies advertise music CDs, mineral water, soda, and luxury holidays that share the liquor brand name.

Broadcasters are hoping that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) will be able to convince the Government to relax the norms. For, at stake are revenues of Rs 150-200 crore, which the industry could stand to lose if the I&B Ministry does not relax the norms.

Meanwhile, Kingfisher Airlines, which had planned a multi-crore marketing blitz, is yet to unleash its commercials on television channels.

Broadcasting industry officials said that the airline has not booked airtime on any of the leading mass entertainment channels.

"Though Mr Vijay Mallya has maintained that the I&B Ministry has given a go-ahead to Kingfisher Airlines, the company too seems to wait for the air to clear on surrogate advertising," said a broadcasting industry official.

However, liquor company executives said that while the existing commitments are being honoured, channels are not accepting ads for the near future.

Hence, the industry is working overtime to convince the Government to take a softer stance.

The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), on behalf of the IMFL industry, has made a case for genuine brand extensions.

Also, SABMiller, the world's second largest brewer, has made a representation on behalf of its beer brands.

Meanwhile, the All India Brewers Association (AIBA) is expected to make a representation on behalf of the beer industry suggesting that the establishment view this mild alcoholic drink differently.

Beer, which has only up to eight per cent alcohol content in most cases, constitutes only three per cent of the total liquor intake in the country.

AIBA is likely to argue that beer, which is considered as a softer and preferred alcohol across the world, merits a delinked approach (vis-à-vis IMFL) from the perspective of responsible drinking.

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