IBF readies guidelines to determine surrogate advertising

NEW DELHI: The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), an apex body of broadcasting companies operating in India, has finalised a set of guidelines on ads which can be termed surrogate or otherwise. The document is likely to be circulated amongst the IBF members over the next few days for final approval.

The guidelines on surrogate advertising are an outcome of the recent government crackdown on channels that had been airing surrogate advertisements relating to liquor and tobacco.

However, the present set of IBF guidelines on surrogate ads relate to liquor ads only and the issue of tobacco ads will be taken up separately, an IBF source told today.

The guidelines prepared by an IBF sub-committee, headed by Sandeep Goyal, group broadcasting chief executive of Zee Telefilms, lists out what could constitute a surrogate ad or which should be taken as genuine brand promotion.

For example, it is spelt out that if a certain liquor company is advertising a product that is available fairly easily in the country, then it should not be and cannot be termed as a surrogate advertising as it was a genuine promotion of a different product.

If these yardsticks are taken, then McDowell may get the benefit of doubt. The company's ad on various channels feature the soda water which is now available in almost all parts of India. But Hayward's 5000 beer may be given out by the third umpire. It is felt that the dartboards which Hayward's is advertising is not so easily available for the ad to be not termed surrogate.

The government had formed a body, headed by the additional secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry, Anil Baijal, to look into the issue of surrogate and offending ads on various TV channels.

This government body since its formation has sent out show cause notices to most channels on surrogate ads relating to alcohol and tobacco products. While most channels have complied with the government panel's directive, a few channels still air ads of a liquor company which purportedly makes apple juice too and after drinking the product `anything can happen (kuch bhi ho sakta hain).'

Meanwhile, the IBF is also in the process of finalising a set of programming and content guidelines to be followed. For this the regulatory mechanism and content code of various countries are being studied This set of guideline is expected to be ready by the month-end.

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