What the media & govt ecosystem is doing on potrayal of women in advertising

NEW DELHI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci) rejected six of the fourteen complaints relating to wrongful depiction of women in advertisements during 2012 and 2013.

Advertisements were taken off or voluntarily withdrawn by the channels in five cases after the Asci raised the issue of indecent representation about women, Information and Broadcasting Ministry sources said.

Two cases are still pending with Asci for appropriate action and the inter-ministerial committee demanded an apology from four channels which had carried the advertisement of a deodorant.

The advertisements mostly about deodorants were aired on just over thirty channels. Other advertisements were about mobiles, creams for women, razor blades, innerwear and lingerie, a condom brand, and a carbonated drink.

Meanwhile, the government has already announced that the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986 is to be amended to include the audio visual media and material in electronic form.

Sources in the women & child development ministry told that the aim would also be to strengthen the penal provisions.

The sources clarified that the move had nothing to do with recent rape case and its coverage on the electronic and social media, and had been approved by the Union Cabinet much earlier for being moved in parliament as an amendment to the Act.

At present, the Act has provision for prohibition of advertisements containing indecent representation of Women, and prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc; containing indecent representation of women. But this will not apply to any book, pamphlet, paper, slide, film, writing, drawing, painting, photograph, representation or figure where it is justified as being for the public good.

Meanwhile, home ministry sources said there was no proposal to amend the Indian Penal Code to keep a check on the vulgarity/objectionable content in programmes and advertisements telecom on various Doordarshan channels.

I&B ministry sources denied that any representation had been made by it to the two ministries to amend the existing laws or to formulate a new code for the content telecast on DD or other TV channels. The sources added that DD strictly adhered to the Programme and Advertising Codes and so no programme containing vulgarity or objectionable content was telecast by the pubcaster.

Parliament had been told recently that more than ninety per cent of the advertisers comply with the orders of the Asci.

I&B Minister Manish Tewari informed parliament that in 2012-13, a total of 2,954 complaints were received against 784 advertisements. A total of 640 of these complaints had been upheld and the advertisers had been asked to withdraw or modify the advertisements.

Asci has informed the ministry that it has set up a new initiative wherein advertisements which are extremely inappropriate, indecent, vulgar and against public interest are suspended pending investigation.

In cases where it appears prima facie that an advertisement is in serious breach of the Asci code and its continued transmission on any medium causes or has the effect of causing public harm, then Asci would, pending investigation, forthwith direct the advertiser/the advertising agency/the media buying agency and the media concerned to suspend the advertisement.

Asci also informed that they will write to the concerned ministries to take appropriate action against advertisers who do not comply with the Asci orders.

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