ASCI to meet I&B on misleading ads issue

NEW DELHI: With the Department of Consumer Affairs adamant on setting an agency to check misleading advertisements, the Advertising Standards Council of India has decided to take up the issue with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to prevent unnecessary duplication.

A Delhi-based member of ASCI told that though ASCI members had met Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas in this regard, they would raise the issue through the I&B Ministry which is the nodal Ministry for dealing with the media.

The I&B Ministry sources also said the Ministry was in favour of self-regulation on such matters and feels the work being done by ASCI is adequate.
The Department of Consumer Affairs, which has been asked by the Prime Minister’s office to study the possibility of framing some guidelines to check misleading advertisements in the print and electronic media, has said it is planning setting up an agency to examine consumer complaints against misleading advertisements.

Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas told mediapersons here that "at present, we do not have any agency to investigate the consumer complaints regarding misleading advertisements and so we are considering setting up one under the Department of Consumer Affairs."

In August, the Ministry had formed an inter-ministerial committee to consider various options to deal with the issue of misleading ads.

The Minister said the proposed agency will have experts from various fields to check the claims made by companies in their advertisements.

Thomas expressed concerns over rising consumer complaints against misleading ads particularly in regional languages. Admitting there were several legislations and regulations under different Ministries to deal with the issue, Thomas said: "We are discussing how there can be a co-ordination between them."

At present, the Food Processing, Health and Information and Broadcasting Ministries are separately dealing with misleading advertisements under various acts.

Taking objection to advertisements that make promises for checking falling hair, obesity and skin conditions, the PMO had last month directed the Consumer Affairs Ministry to work on the existing Advertising Code and suggest changes.

There are laws to deal with consumer issues and courts that specifically address complaints, but a guide will make it clear to the buyer and seller about a legitimate advertisement and a doubtful appeal seeking to exploit human fears, insecurity and suffering.

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