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ASCI pulls up TV channels for misleading claims

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has pulled up three TV channels for misleading claims in their advertisements in July 2015.

Among the TV channels pulled up by the ad regulator were Bloomberg TV India, Asianet Communications and Odisha Television Ltd.

CCC pulled up Bloomberg TV India for its advertisements claiming ‘The market opens with Bloomberg TV India. The No.1 market opening show 9 am – Street Smart Dealing Room. Factual. First. Fastest. Final. Future’, ‘When it comes to business and markets programming, Bloomberg TV India is the channel of choice’ and ‘the most preferred destination for business and markets content. No. 1 Bloomberg TV India leads with 43 per cent market share in the English Business News genre’.

All the three advertisements violate the BARC Principles which state inter alia that ‘the period of comparison must cover at least four consecutive weeks of data’, stated the CCC. The audience definition chosen by the advertiser violated the principle that subject matter of comparison is not chosen in such a way as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser or so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case.

The baseline claim in the ad, ‘First. Fastest’, was also found misleading as the advertiser had not provided any evidence to substantiate this claim.

The regulator also found faults in Asianet Communications Ltd’s ad for the show ‘Sell Me the Answer’. As per CCC, the scene in the advertisement showing a school teacher hitting a student on his palm with a stick, was of corporal punishment in schools and institutions and was considered likely to result in the physical, mental or moral harm to children.

Odisha Television Limited was the third TV channel to be pulled up by CCC. The TAM data for weeks 11 to 14 shows that OTV stands at number 4 by average reach across weeks and at number 5 by TVTs. However, Sarthak, Star Plus and Tarang have been consistently ahead of OTV. The claim, ‘OTV repeat history again. Ahead of not only News but also entertainment channel’, was thus found false.

The advertisement runs against Rule 5 of TAM guidelines regarding use of averages as only one week’s data has been shown. Any estimate of channel ranking whether based on reach or TV ratings must be based on at least 4-8 weeks to be conclusive. Rule 7 was also not observed as the estimate is in fine print at the bottom of the ad and not clearly stated. This confers an artificial advantage upon the advertiser so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case.

For the month of July 2015, ASCI upheld complaints against 74 out of 110 advertisements. Out of 110 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 28 belonged to the Personal and Healthcare category, followed by 25 advertisements in the Education category and 21 advertisements from other categories.