Other than creating a flutter, the recent Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Harbhajan Singh advertisement spoof has put the spotlight on how liquor brands are violating existing norms by promoting their products through surrogate advertisements on TV.
“The McDowell's and Royal Stag whisky ads featuring well-known cricketers, and all other similar ads are in gross violation in existing norms. The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry never approved their telecast,” said a senior ministry official.
All content telecast on television channels, through cable networks, have to adhere to the ‘programme and advertising code’ in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act.
“As per the code, no surrogate ads or ads of brand extensions of liquor brands are allowed,” said the I&B ministry official. He admitted, however, that the surrogate ads issue is a grey area.
“We are in the process of streamlining this complex issue of surrogate ads and are finalising a set of guidelines,” the official said.
After the recent controversy over the Dhoni-Harbhajan liquor ad, the I&B ministry has sent a reminder to the bodies framing the guidelines to speed up the work.
HT had reported earlier that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) is preparing a set of guidelines for advertisments.
In 2010, the government had declared a blanket ban (no-exception) on all liquor advertisements.