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I&B Ministry directs all channels to air apology scroll for objectionable ads

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I&B Ministry directs all channels to air apology scroll for objectionable ads

It was seen on music channels a couple of weeks back for showing objectionable content in the form of remix music videos, and now it would be seen on all channels for showing objectionable ads. In the case of music channels, the channels had to air an apology scroll stating that the I&B Ministry had warned the channel against showing objectionable content and that the channel apologised for the same, assuring not to the repeat such telecast.

This time the scroll would read ‘Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issues a warning to ‘X channel – (name of the channel concerned)’ for telecasting surrogate advertisement / content of liquor products in violation of advertising code. The channel regrets this and apologises for the same. We assure to be more careful in the future’.

The notice, which is now an order, follows the Cable Television Networks (Amendments) Rules 2006, where the sub rule (9) in Rule 7 has been substituted, the new rule directing channels to follow the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) Code in a channel’s advertising.

All channels have to air this apology scroll for a period of three days. Jawahar Goel, Indian Broadcast Federation (IBF) President, said that all channels, including STAR Network, SET, Zee Telefilms, Turner India, Sahara Network, Aaj Tak, NDTV and even sports channels like Ten Sports, had been issued this order. Initially the date of airing was different for every channel, five of them slotted to begin the apology scroll from August 15, 2006.

However, the IBF has convinced I&B at a meeting with I&B Secretary, S K Arora, to postpone this to August 18, 2006 in light of Independence Day celebrations on channels.

Explaining more on this order, Paritosh Joshi, President, Ad Sales, STAR Entertainment, said, “The notice was issued some time back and the Ministry had invited channels to explain why action shouldn’t be taken for these ads that were seen objectionable. Subsequently, all other channels met the I&B Secretary and presented our case. However, action has been taken and this order was issued.”

The IBF’s meeting with the I&B Secretary did manifest the postponing of the airing date for some channels and the organisation intends to meet I&B Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, on August 14, 2006 to explore a mid-path in this case.

It may be noted that some of the examples that the Ministry pointed out as reasons that had led to this notice comprised vulgar ads of innerwear, pan masala ads and brand extension of liquor brands. A wide range of brands have come under the scanner, including names like Lux Cozee, Kingfisher, Seagram’s, and Bagpiper, among others. Some of these ads date back to 2005.

Giving his point of view, Joshi said, “The channel has, to the best of its assessment, explained why it aired some ads that had same brand names as products in categories that cannot be advertised and hence encouraged. For example, the Live 8 Concert – the concert was for a cause and it had CDs and DVDs that people bought, but it was brought by a brand that the government finds objectionable. What do you in cases like these?”

“I agree that there may have been error in judgements, but the norms have been followed with due diligence in the past – we understand our social responsibilities and we have adhered to ASCI Code. That said, an order from the government is an order from the government. We are exploring options with the government on what can be done on this matter,” said Joshi.

Zee Telefilms’ Joy Chakraborthy, said, “The issue is still under discussion and of course we would wait to see what the result is before the said dates. If the question is what if we don’t get any other notification that is different from the order that has been issued, then our view is that this is an order and we would honour it.”

In its present state, since the order has been issued, all channels will have to carry this apology scroll. However, a final word on this would be seen subsequent to the other meetings that the IBF delegation has planned with the Ministry.


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