I&B pulls the plug on surrogate ads

Written by Ashish Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 05:19am hrs
With broadcasters continuing to telecast advertisements of brands that are also usedfor cigarettes, tobacco, wine, alcohol and liquor amongst other products, the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) has given its final ultimatum withdraw all such advertisements else broadcast license will be suspended or cancelled.

This move is likely to impact the advertising of brands including those of Kingfisher, Pan Bahar (Ashok & Company), Pan Vilas (Godfrey Phillips), Chaini Khaini (Harsh International), Rajnigandha among others. Many Pan Masala and branded water brands are already on air across all categories of television channel. Experts said this is because the cable laws pertaining to surrogate advertisement is yet to be amended. Due to lack of clarity in the laws, several tobacco brands are back on television, a media observer said.

However, the I&B ministry does not agree with this view. In a directive issued to all channels including news and current affairs channels recently, the I&B said it had observed violations of cable laws pertaining to telecast of such advertisements. All TV channels must ensure compliance of these directives and withdraw all such advertisements...any further violations may entail stringent action including suspension or prohibition of broadcast.

Sources said the I&B ministry has already identified a list of channels that have been telecasting surrogate advertisements in the past three to six months. If such ads are not withdrawn in next few days, the I&B ministry may suspend the channels first and serve show cause notices on why there license should not be cancelled, a government source said.

In a separate advisory, the I&B ministry has also asked the news broadcasters to clearly distinguish between scroll advertisements at the bottom of the television screens from the news scrolls. In its communication to the broadcasters the I&B said that many news channels have been violating the cable rules pertaining to scroll advertising. All ads should be clearly distinguishable from the programme and should not in any manner interfere with the programme - lower part of screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme.