Citing the self-regulatory norms of media, the Centre on Thursday said it did not intend to regulate content of advertisements, including display of promiscuity to promote condoms.
Responding to a Supreme Court’s directive asking for the government’s stand on regulating advertorial content, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry filed an affidavit that placed its confidence in the existing rules to deal with any breach.
It cited the self-regulatory mechanisms within the media to curb any abuse of ethics, saying these were sufficient to take action against offenders. Thus, the government did not plan to provide any advance certification on pre-censorship for any products in addition to those already covered under the existing regulations.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur had issued the direction in February this year while dealing with a batch of petitions filed by Hindustan Latex and other condom manufacturers challenging a 2008 Madras high court order. The high court had restrained the companies from using titillating visuals to promote condom sales. The apex court stayed this direction.
The Centre said The Press Council Act, 1978, addresses the concern of those who feel that advertisements will have an impact on impressionable minds. Also, ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’, a handbook issued by Press Council of India, further governs the standard of the media.
As it stands, there is no pre-censorship or certification of the contents telecast on television. Certification of advertisements is only meant for cinema halls. Similarly, advertisements in Print Media (newspapers, magazines and journals), do not get covered under any regulatory mechanism.
“It is submitted that existing provisions in the Cinematograph Act, Cable TV Act and Rules as well as the Press Council stipulate a combination of mechanism of self-regulation and prior certification with respect to certain products associated with alcohol and tobacco are considered sufficient and the Government does not have any plan to further regulate advertisements on any products like the ones which the petitioners manufacture (condoms),” read the affidavit.
The states, it further added, are competent to take action if a complaint is filed against any advertisement for violating the penal law.