IBF targets surrogate political ads

NEW DELHI: Some surrogate political advertisements on various TV channels, including those in South Indian languages, may just go off the air from mid-day on Monday.



Feeling that they are likely to get caught in between the crossfire of the government and the Election Commission, the broadcasters have decided to take their own initiative regarding political ads that are being put on air by front organizations of parties.

According to information available with indiantelevision.com, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), apex body of broadcasting companies operating

in India, are meeting on Monday morning here to discuss the issue of surrogate political ads and the controversy that it has generated.

The IBF is likely to take a stand on the issue and would advocate restraint on the part of the members on this issue.

Claiming that IBF would urge its members to ?follow self-regulation?, a source in the organization said, ?Before the government or the EC cracks down on channels, which may put a stop to some additional revenue that is likely to flow in from political parties, it is better that broadcasters

screen political ads, surrogate or otherwise, to ensure no personal attacks are made and limits of decency are not crossed.?

However, a final shape of this initiative would only emerge after the meeting where members would discuss various modalities. Some members who would not be able to make it to the Delhi meeting would be contacted over

phone for their personal views on the issue.

On a complaint filed by the Congress Party, the Election Commission on Saturday directed the government to revert with an action taken plan by Monday on some ads that are doing the rounds of TV channels and, which

Congress feels, is an unjust, indecent and direct attack on its president, Sonia Gandhi.

The government can direct TV channels to stop airing certain ads under the programming and advertising code of the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act, 1995. But since the ad in question, which has upset the Congress, has been put out by an organization whose links could be traced back to some senior members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the government finds itself in

a bind.

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