Single portal for ad self-declaration will make process easier: Centre tells SC - Hindustan Times

Single portal for ad self-declaration will make process easier: Centre tells SC

Jul 10, 2024 02:48 PM IST

The Centre requested the Supreme Court to allow a single portal to upload self-declaration certificates for advertisements for “administrative prudence and improving user experience

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has requested the Supreme Court to merge the two portals for self-declaration certificates (SDCs) for advertisements into one to improve user experience and make administration easier.

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting filed its compliance affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday. (File)
The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting filed its compliance affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday. (File)

“This will ensure that all SDCs are readily available at a single portal for public/stakeholder viewing and avoid duplication without diluting the purpose of filing such SDCs,” the MIB submitted in its compliance affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Monday.

The MIB said that to comply with the court’s May 7 order, it had activated two portals --- one on Broadcast Seva Portal for TV and radio ads, and another on the website of the Press Council of India (PCI) for print and internet ads --- on June 4. It requested the top court to allow a single portal to upload SDCs for “administrative prudence and improving consumer/user experience”.

The Supreme Court orally ordered the MIB on Tuesday to hold meetings with the advertising industry and other relevant stakeholders to streamline the issues related to the self-declaration certificate for advertisements regime. MIB was instructed to file an affidavit with their recommendations before the next date of hearing.

A division bench of justices Hima Kohli and Sandeep Mehta observed that the industry should not suffer due to the self-declaration certificate regime and the intent was not to cause harassment for the industry.

The apex court also appointed an amicus curiae in the case --- Shadan Farasat --- to assist the court with the implications of this regime, as well as the larger issues raised in the case.

On May 7, the apex court, in the Patanjali misleading ads case, had directed that before publishing any ad --- electronic, digital or print --- the advertiser or the advertising agency must submit a self-declaration certificate to the MIB. The respective portals were operationalised on June 18 and drew significant criticism from the industry for being too onerous to comply with. As a result, the MIB had eventually eased the guidelines on July 3 and restricted the requirement only for ads related to health and food products and made it an annual requirement.

The bench also issued notice on the impleadment applications filed by the Association of Radio Operators for India, Internet and Mobile Association of India, Broadband India Forum and other industry bodies. Senior advocates Siddharth Dave, Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, on behalf of these respective bodies, told the court that the directions had had an immense impact on the advertising industry.

Between June 4 and July 8, over 81,000 SDCs have been uploaded to the two portals, the MIB said. In the affidavit, it also attached the submissions it received from the industry associations.

The MIB held two meetings with the industry on June 11 and June 25.

“It is humbly submitted that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has suitably addressed some of these concerns, whichever were administratively possible, within the ambit of this Hon’ble Court’s order. … the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has taken all necessary steps to comply with the order of this Hon’ble Court in letter and spirit- directing Advertisers/Advertising Agencies to furnish a comprehensive Self Declaration Certificate once a year to cover all advertisements related to products and services belonging to the Food & Health sectors, published across various media platforms i.e. print/electronic/internet,” the MIB submitted in its affidavit.

It informed the court about the advisory issued on June 3, as well as the demi official letters sent to the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ministry of Ayush on May 31, informing them about the two portals. The Ministry of Ayush, as per MIB’s affidavit, sent a letter on June 6 to the drug licensing authorities in all states and Union territories to inform all Ayush drug manufacturers in their jurisdiction about the new portals.

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