Govt. panel on surrogate ads issues notices to 10 TV channels

NEW DELHI: The government panel, which also includes some representations from NGOs and the advertising industry, has issued fresh notices to over 10 TV channels late last week over the continued airing of surrogate liquor and cigarettes advertisements.

In a related move, the panel has asked the law ministry to examine whether a crackdown can be enforced on brand promotion on and off air too.

"Fresh notices have been issued to lot of channels last week," a senior information and broadcasting ministry official told today, adding that other aspects of surrogate advertising are being examined as well.

According to the official, while some channels like the Star channels and Sony had agreed to take off surrogate advertisements, what some media companies had done was to shift such surrogate advertisements to sister channels and some have just continued to air such ads.

The official hinted that Sony Entertainment TV's AXN channel was still airing ads pertaining to liquor products. Ditto for ESPN too.

Sources within AXN however, said till last week, the only clear directive that had come from the I&B ministry on the issue was the notices for two advertisements - McDowell's Mera Number One and Gilby's Green Label. These ads had subsequently been removed the sources said.

ESPN officials were not available for comment.

The high-powered government panel, under the chairmanship of I&B additional secretary (broadcasting) Anil Baijal, has also now started looking into the issue whether liquor and tobacco companies can promote their brands through indirect promotion of events too.

"Suppose a liquor company is sponsoring an event (like the recent fashion awards which were brought by Kingfisher/UB Group), it's indirectly promoting its brand and products. The issue has been referred to the law ministry whether something can be done to curtail such things. The ministry's views are awaited," the official said.

The panel also claims that it has managed to arrest the rampant airing of surrogate advertising on TV channels and that it has also succeeded in banning those ads which don't conform to the code. Like the commercial relating to a brand of salt which was drawing mileage, according to the panel, from the historic Dandi march during the pre-Independence days.

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