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Surrogate advertising notification awaits govt clarification

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NEW DELHI: A notification issued on 27 February 2009 on surrogate advertising has still not been operationalised as the government has failed to work out a mechanism for differentiating between surrogate ads and genuine brand extensions of tobacco and alcohol products, parliament was told earlier this week.

The notification came following a long pending demand from broadcasters to allow bonafide advertisements of genuine brands using the brand name/logo which is associated with tobacco products or alcohol.

A committee of secretaries from different ministries held a meeting on 22 January this year and resolved to work out a formula, but this has not happened. Prior to that, A note was circulated to the department of consumer affairs, department of industrial policy & promotion, department of legal affairs, department of health and family welfare and the department of revenue.

The committee had decided that information & broadcasting and health and family welfare ministry officials would decide a note for operationalisation of the notification and inform the cabinet secretariat within a month. In case the two ministries do not agree, the matter would be referred again to the committee, it had been resolved.

Meanwhile, information & broadcasting minister Manish Tewari told parliament that the committee had also decided that issues regarding advertisements on genuine brand extension for both tobacco and alcohol products will continue to be dealt with together.

Telecast of advertisements on private satellite/cable TV channels is regulated under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Rules framed thereunder. Rule 7 (2)(viii)(A) of the Advertising Code provides that no advertisement shall be permitted which-promotes directly or indirectly production, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants.

A proviso says that a product that uses a brand name or logo, which is also used for cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants, may be advertised on cable service subject to the following conditions:-

(i) the story board or visual of the advertisement must depict only the product being advertised and not the prohibited products in any form or manner;

(ii) the advertisement must not make any direct or indirect reference to the prohibited products;

(iii) the advertisement must not contain any nuances or phrases promoting prohibited products;

(iv) the advertisement must not use particular colours and layout or presentations associated with prohibited products;

(v) the advertisement must not use situations typical for promotion of prohibited products when advertising the other products;

Provided further that:-

(i) the advertiser shall submit an application with a copy of the proposed advertisement along with a certificate by a registered chartered accountant that the product carrying the same name as cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants is distributed in reasonable quantity and is available in substantial number of outlets where other products of the same category are available and the proposed expenditure on such advertising thereon shall not be disproportionate to the actual sales turnover of the product.

(ii) All such advertisements found to be genuine brand extensions by the ministry of information & broadcasting shall be previewed and certified by the Central Board of Film Certification as suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and are in accordance with the provisions contained in sub-clause (i) to (v) of the first proviso, prior to their telecast or transmission or retransmission.

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