After ad controversy, LED screens at Amritsar’s Heritage Street go blank
Having burnt its fingers for screening “objectionable” ads, Jaipur-based agency now fighting shy of beaming any ads on screens that telecast Gurbani kirtan in morning and evening hours.punjab Updated: Jul 31, 2017 20:44 IST
After courting controversy by screening “objectionable” advertisements on huge LED screens installed along the Heritage Street near the Golden Temple here, a Jaipur-based advertising agency is no longer displaying any other content on them, except a couple of hours’ live telecast of Gurbani kirtan.
The row over the ads displayed on screens, which are five in number and were installed by the then SAD-BJP government ahead of the assembly polls, sparked a few weeks ago after ads of liquor were allegedly displayed on them.
Prior to this, an advertisement of a mobile phone company, in which a scantily dressed girl model was seen dancing, was screened. It also drew flak from devotees.
However, these screens are lying underutilised these days. Enraged over the tightening of noose by the state government, the advertising firm ‘NS Publicity Ltd’ has stopped screening of the recording of Gurbani kirtan at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple during the day time. Now, it only screens live telecast of kirtan beamed by a private TV channel in the morning and evening hours.
Earlier, it used to play the recording of kirtan during the day when it did not have any ads to be screened.
Sources told HT that after the opposition criticism over the issue of controversial ads, the Congress government took a serious note of the matter and asked the agency not to screen an ad before examining its content. However, the firm is now reluctant to display any ads.
Sources in the firm claim that most of the ads they get have some such content, which may create controversy. Besides, they cannot force various companies to make ads as per the government directive, which wants every ad to “uphold the sanctity” of the holy shrine.
HT’s repeated attempts get the reaction of the firm owners proved futile. An employee of the firm, who responded to a phone call made on the number given on its website, claimed that they are getting lesser ads nowadays due to GST (goods and service tax).
On Friday, the firm owners reportedly came to the holy city to examine the functioning of the screens. They also had a meeting with officials of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), which is the custodian of the project, to resolve the content issue. However, neither of the sides revealed what transpired in the meeting.
Notably, the PUDA will charge Rs 5 lakh annually from the firm, which is also liable to pay tax to the local civic body.
One of the screens put up by the firm on the building of the Saragarhi parking lot on the Heritage Street is 100X30 ft. On two sides of the building, two pairs of smaller screens (30X30 ft) have been installed under the public private partnership mode (PPP) mode. The company is supposed to earn its profits through advertising.
During the inauguration of the screens, the previous SAD-BJP government had stated that these had been installed to screen Gurbani only, but the agreement does not make any such specification.