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Govt still to take action against misleading & surrogate ads of liquor brands

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NEW DELHI: The Government has not been able to take a decision on allegations of surrogate or misleading advertising in television advertisements of as many as 37 products in the last two years.

A reply given in Parliament earlier this week by Information and Broadcasting Ministry Ambika Soni lists 17 advertisements of 2011 and 20 of 2012 as ‘under consideration’ of the Ministry.

While there were no complaints during 2009, action was taken on all seven complaints during 2010.

The advertisements ‘under consideration’ in 2011 are for products like Bagpiper Club Soda, Bacadardi Together Music CD, Imperial Blue Music CDs, McDowell No. 1 Platinum Soda, Royal Stag (five different versions), Imperial Blue (two versions), Royal Challenge, Kingfisher Premium, Blender’s Pride, Howard 5000 (two versions), Kingfisher Beer, and VB Best Cold Beer.

In 2012, the complaints are for most of the above-mentioned brands, in addition to Carlsberg Beer, Seagram’s Imperial Blue Superhits music CDs, Signature, Tuborg, 100 Pipers Music CDs, Seagram’s Royal Stag Mega Cricket, McDowell Century Soda, Kingfisher Premium Packaged Drinking water, Signature Natural Mineral Water, ICE Music CDs, Teacher’s Music CDs, Signature Parties (sponsored by Karbonn Mobiles), Seagram’s Royal Stag Mega Music, and Seagram’s Natural Mineral Water.

In addition, there was a complaint this year about a misleading advertisement of Garnier Fructus shampoo, and another about Bhavishya Jeevan Amrit which are under consideration.

In most other cases, the matter was referred to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) or the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and these self-regulatory bodies advised the TV channels not to carry the advertisements.

Most prominent among these was the daily telecast of the advertorial on ‘Third Eye of Nirmal Baba’ on some channels.

A total of 43 cases of misleading or surrogate advertisements were received by the Ministry during 2011 and 2012, many of them for the same product telecast in different channels.

Soni said complaints also came for 18 advertisements in the print media between 2009-10 and 2011-12, including three this year which were under process with the Press Council of India.

Earlier this year, MoS C M Jatua had said the Department of Consumer Affairs is holding a series of consultations and workshops with all stakeholders in different parts of the country to create awareness about this issue.

He said the Consumer Protection Act 1986 had ample provisions to act against advertisements making false or misleading representation and these had been duly notified as Unfair Trade practices for which a consumer could approach the Consumer Courts.

The Press Council Act and the Journalistic Norms drawn up by the Council, and the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act apart from the ASCI also had powers to deal with such complaints.

In reply to another question, Parliament was informed that a representative of the Department of Consumer Affairs was now represented on the Inter-Ministerial Committee which hears complaints against TV channels.

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