Singhvi also said that the commercials have already run for more than three weeks and the campaign will continue till May 27.
The Delhi High Court today said that Bharti Airtel’s advertisements offering “live and free access” to IPL coverage, ought to carry the disclaimer in a larger font size than it has now. Justice Yogesh Khanna made the observation while reserving his decision on a plea by Reliance JIO (RJIO) alleging that Airtel’s commercials were “deceptive and misleading”. RJIO had claimed that the advertisements “falsely proclaim” that Airtel was offering “live and free” access to T20 cricket coverage and also “falsely represent that a subscriber need only obtain a 4G sim from the defendant company and download the Airtel TV app to obtain a virtual season pass, that is live and free access to T20 coverage”.
RJIO had, thereafter, moved an application claiming that Airtel was in contempt of the court’s April 13 order asking it to carry a disclaimer in bold stating that under its ‘live and free access offer’, only subscription to video streaming platform Hotstar would be free and data charges according to the subscriber’s plan would apply. Airtel, represented by senior advocate P Chidambaram, today told the court that its commercials and advertisements were fully compliant with the norms laid down by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). RJIO, represented by senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dayan Krishnan, said that according to ASCI standards if the advertisement is contrary to the disclaimer, then the commercial cannot be publicised.
In the instant case, the advertisement was contrary to the disclaimer, they added. ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organization of the advertising industry in India. Singhvi also said that the commercials have already run for more than three weeks and the campaign will continue till May 27. During the hearing, Chidambaram contended that RJIO had no legal or common law right to come to court and claim that Airtel’s commercials were misleading consumers. He said that consumers, if misled, can seek appropriate remedy under the law.
He also argued that no injury has been caused to RJIO because of the advertisements as it has not said if anyone has left its services and moved to Airtel. The lawyer further said that Airtel will abide by whatever suggestion the court might give and added that his client was not in contempt of any judicial order. The court observed that while “technically it’s (advertisements) ok”, the font size needs to be bigger and said it will pass appropriate orders. Earlier too, the court had noted that the disclaimer was not carried in bold as was assured by Airtel.