ASCI pulls up ET Now for airing misleading promos

MUMBAI: The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI has pulled up Times Network-owned ET Now for misleading consumers by airing promos in which it claimed to be the number 1 channel.

The CCC found that the claims made in the ET Now promos were misleading that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

It further stated that the channel in their promos circulated the BARC data claim to be the No. 1 channel starting 14th February 2019 during Week 6,7,8,9 & 10. The BARC advisory dated 31st January 2019 which was updated on 14th February 2019, was applicable during the period of the advertisement complained against.

In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the CCC concluded that the TV Promos contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code.

During the month of April 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 206 advertisements, of which 49 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they received the ASCI communication.

The CCC upheld complaints against 114 advertisements out of 157 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 114 advertisements, 59 belonged to the education sector, 35 belonged to the healthcare sector, five to personal care, two to the food & beverages sector and 13 were from the ‘others’ category.

The CCC observed that one renowned cricketer was endorsing a prominent brand for payment gateway, implying leadership claim and presenting the product as a “card” which was not substantiated and was misleading. A well-known refrigerator brand’s claim of keeping vegetables fresh for up to 30 days was considered to be misleading.

In one instance, “100% Genuine Medicines” claim by an online pharmacy was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data such as a list of registered FDA approved pharmacies supplying the said medicines. A learning app was making a claim of millions of students learning from their app which was not substantiated.

A large number of complaints were pertaining to the education sector wherein the advertisers were making unsubstantiated claims of them being No. 1, winning awards or “100% placement” luring students. The CCC also came across a significant number of advertisement of hospitals and clinics making unsubstantiated claims about their services being the best, they were bestowed various awards or the hospitals being able to cure various conditions ranging from infertility to piles, diabetes, HIV and Cancer.

ASCI chairman D Shivakumar said, “Over the last three decades, we have worked on many fronts to ensure awareness and acceptance of self-regulation in advertising. More recently ASCI has launched its digital campaign “Self-Regulate before it is too late”, towards encouraging better industry participation for protecting self-regulation of advertising. It is important that advertisers work together with ASCI to build a strong and cohesive self-regulatory ecosystem to ensure that advertising stays trustworthy and independent of external controls.”

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