Jio in its appeal had claimed that Bharti's advertisements “explicitly and falsely proclaim” that the operator is offering live and free access to T20 cricket matches, and “falsely represent” that a subscriber needs only to obtain a 4G SIM and download the AirtelTV app to obtain a virtual season pass for live and free access to the matches.
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the country’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, to issue clarifications regarding its latest offer, which allows its subscribers to watch IPL T20 cricket matches free of cost. The court has asked Bharti to modify its advertisements related to the offer. Reliance Jio had moved the high court against the ads by Bharti stating that they were “false, deceptive and misleading”. “However, during the course of the arguments, the learned senior counsel for the defendant (Bharti), under instructions, agreed the defendant would include the following in its advertisement in bold letters – a) the subscription of Hotstar shall only be free and b) the data charges will be as per subscriber’s tariff plan,” the court order said. When contacted, a Bharti spokesperson said, “A frivolous complaint was filed against Airtel’s new ad campaign in the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the same. No stay was granted. In fact, the high court has suggested minor clarification to the existing disclaimers. After seeing the order, we will take appropriate steps. Our ad campaign will continue”.
Jio in its appeal had claimed that Bharti’s advertisements “explicitly and falsely proclaim” that the operator is offering live and free access to T20 cricket matches, and “falsely represent” that a subscriber needs only to obtain a 4G SIM and download the AirtelTV app to obtain a virtual season pass for live and free access to the matches. “Subject advertisements are deliberately deceptive, misrepresenting and misleading in their content since the subscriber i.e. the individual wanting to watch T20 matches on his electronic device, will doubtless incur charges for data being consumed to download/ live stream the T20 cricket matches as per the data download charges/plan availed of by the subscriber, thus it is not free by no means,” Jio said in its appeal.
The deception and misrepresentation inherent in the subject advertisements are aimed at enticing and luring viewers to subscribe to the defendant’s telecom service and give preference to defendant over other telecom service providers in the market, including the plaintiff (Jio), the company claimed.