After I&B notice to channels over 2 'liquor ads', more to follow

The I&B Ministry, which sent showcause notices to four television channels for carrying surrogate advertisements for two liquor brands, is set to "get serious" on a number of other ads.

Notices were sent to Zee, Aaj Tak, Sony and Star, that two advertisements, McDowell's Mera Number One and Gilby's Green Label were clear instances of surrogate advertisements. While Zee and Star replied saying they'd taken off the ads, Aaj Tak and Sony will be doing so shortly, ministry officials said.

Four more have drawn the attention of the ministry for which notices are likely to be sent, ministry officials say. The brands under scrutiny are Charms (cigarettes), Smirnoff (vodka), Haywards and Kingfisher (both beer).

The ministry has set up a panel under additional secretary Anil Baijal to look into the matter. The committee can take cognisance suo motu or look into specific complaints that could be construed as violation of the Advertisement Code. The next meeting of the committee is 16 July.

According to ministry officials, Rs 3000 million was what used to be pumped in annually into various TV channels predominantly by liquor companies. Due to the various initiatives taken by the government, this has reduced by 15 to 20 per cent they say.

The government however, is not looking only at cigarette and liquor ads. Once this issue has been dealt with, the government will be looking at other ads as well, the officials say.

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