I&B, ASCI to work together to remove offensive ads

NEW DELHI: The government is finally getting it right. It's involving the industry where its diktat had failed, especially where surrogate and objectionalble advertising on various TV channels are concerned.



The ministry of information and broadcasting and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) would take steps to harmonize the Advertisement Code under the Cable Television Regulation Act and the code prescribed by the ASCI in order to check the "menace" of objectionable advertisement on TV channels.

At a meeting between minister of information & broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad and a delegation of the ASCI, led by its president Ravi Kant, yesterday, it was agreed that both the government and the ASCI would synergise their efforts to ensure that decency is maintained in advertisements.

Prasad said that he believes in self-regulation and was not in favour of enforcement by the government. He said professional organizations like ASCI must exercise their influence in motivating their member advertisers to conform to their own code for observing decency, legality, honesty, truthfulness and respectability. He also asked ASCI to spread their network beyond Metros to the small towns.

Expressing his concern over indecent ads and also surrogate ones that were going up to skirt the ban on liquor and tobacco ads, Prasad said that he is receiving a very large number of complaints against such ads even from MPs, judges, lawyers, women organizations etc. All were urging drastic action against the offenders, he said.

ASCI representatives shared the concern of the Minister and said that despite limited resources and infrastructure at their disposal they have a mechanism to receive complaints against offending ads and takes suitable action against the violators. They agreed that self-regulation is the best way to meet the challenge and said that they would launch an awareness campaign to educate the pubic, inviting complaints if any against objectionable ads.

The I&B ministry also launched the ASCI website on the occasion. The website gives information about the ASCI Ad Code, mechanism to receive complaints against objectionable ads and process for their disposal.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Prasad said the ministry would review the Central Board of Films Censors Guidelines to make them more effective in the changed circumstances.

Inaugurating the National Conference of chairpersons of State Women Commissions, here on the weekend, the minister said technology has vastly changed and the entire media scene has undergone total transformation since the guidelines last framed in 1991. He said some check is also required to be exercised over the promos of films, which are put on the TV channels even before the films are censored. Even the songs of films given 'A' certificate are shown on the TV channels, which needs to be stopped.

He said the CBFC deleted over 6,000 feet of film footage, last year, which were found objectionable. But, he said, the CBFC has to ensure a blend of creativity and decency while censoring the films.

Referring to the TV advertisements showing women in an objectionable manner, Prasad agreed that tougher action is needed.

He repeated his appeal to broadcasters and advertisers to exercise self-regulation and not to force the Government to take strict action. He said a creative ad leaves a lasting impression and is much more effective than one put in a cheap manner.

On its own, the government issued 64 showcause notices and passed 34 final orders on objectionable ads on TV channels. In addition, three channels have been issued notices for showing 13 objectionable songs. One of the channels has already agreed to take off offensive songs, the Minister said.

He said, it is very difficult for the Government to monitor all the 100 channels and over 2,000 ads on them. He asked the woman organisations like the National Commission for Women to bring out specific instances of offensive ads to the government's notice, which would be properly followed up.

The chairperson of the National Commission for Women Poornima Advani drew the attention of the minister to the depiction of women in a very bad manner both by the newspapers and the electronic media.

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