I&B lobs ban on political ads issue back at EC; IBF may move court

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting secretary Pawan Chopra today conveyed to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation that the government is merely following the rules set by the Election Commission regarding political advertisements and that the ministry would have no say in the matter.


The IBF is now understood to be weighing its options to seek legal address in this matter. The Board of the IBF, which met EC officials on Tuesday, will decide the future course of action, it is learnt.

On Sunday, the EC had lashed out at I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for 'misleading the media' on the issue of political ads on the electronic medium. Broadcasters have been left in the lurch by the invoking of the Cable Network Act which would expunge all political ads from the small screen till the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The IBF, which feels the EC has wrongly interpreted the Act, is lobbying on behalf of broadcasters, who stand to lose anything upto Rs 500 million if the ban is enforced.

The I&B ministry had observed earlier this week that, vide its communication dated 19.11.2003, the Election Commission had reiterated its earlier decision dated 20.8.1999 disallowing advertisements by political parties/ candidates on electronic media. Subsequently in the light of judgment of the Andhra Pradesh high court (which upheld the right of political parties to advertise or communicate through TV and radio), the EC issued another communication, dated 22.11.2003, withdrawing its earlier instruction banning political advertisements on electronic media.

The government had also expressed its apprehension in monitoring more than 100 cable and satellite channels, 30,000 cable operators and a large number of local channels in local towns and various cities so as to ensure that these political advertisements remain within the Rule Book.

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