TV channels undecided on apology scrolling

NEW DELHI: The Indian government made it clear to TV channels yesterday that those guilty of breaching advertising code would have to publicly apologize, though channel managements are still undecided on future course of action.

The ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a warning to 43 channels directing them to carry a scroll for three days regretting airing surrogate advertisements of liquor and tobacco products in violation of rules.

The scroll to be aired reads thus: “Ministry of information & broadcasting issues a warning to X channel for telecasting surrogate advertisements of liquor/tobacco products in violation of advertising code. X channel regrets this and apologies for the same. We assure to be more careful in future.”

A gaggle of broadcasters, under the aegis of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), met ministry officials on Friday in an attempt to seek a resolution to, what a broadcaster described as, “uncalled for public humiliation.”

The broadcast industry contention was that the government is unnecessarily objecting to ads of products and companies, which may have other legitimate businesses apart from tobacco and liquor products.

Moreover, with the ASCI now given more teeth to regulate ads put out by companies, broadcasters argued, running a scroll of apology for three days would amount to financial setback and space loss for important news alerts too.

However, the ministry officials were firm on their stand as, according to one of them, “too much pressure” was being exerted on the I&B ministry from parliamentarians who have criticized the ministry for inaction against surrogate advertising publicizing liquor and tobacco products on TV channels.

The channels issued show-cause notice will be required to carry the warning scroll round the clock for three consecutive days on their respective channel from 18-21 August 2006.

Still, the channels are undecided on future course of action and, according to information available, are also seeking legal advice on the matter.

The channels that have been issued the warning are Aaj Tak, Animal Planet, B4U, Balle Balle, Channel V, CNBC TV-18, Discovery, ESPN, ETV Bangla, ETV Kannada, ETV Marathi, ETV-2, HBO, Headlines Today, India TV, MTV, National
Geographic, NDTV 24X7, Raj TV, S S Music, SABe TV, Sahara Bihar, Sahara One and Sahara Samay.

The list also includes Set Max, Sony Entertainment, Star Gold, Star Movies, Star One, Star Plus, SUN TV, Tara News, Ten Sports, TEZ, TV-9, Zee Bangla, Zee Café, Zee Gujarati, Zee Marathi, Zee News, Zee Sports, Zee Studio and Zoom.

Rule 7(2)(viii)(A) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 states that “no advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly production, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants.”

In an official statement issued today, the I&B ministry said apart from liquor and tobacco ads, certain objectionable and indecent advertisements of undergarments were also found to have been telecast, which should be stopped immediately.

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