NEW DELHI, Dec 12: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry in India on Monday issued an order banning the broadcast of condoms commercials between 6 am in the morning to 10 pm at night, stating that it had received multiple complaints regarding their adverse impact on children.
The ministry in its order said that it has been brought to its notice “that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent especially for children”.
Citing two provisions of the Advertising Code of the Cable Television Network Rules of 1994, the ministry raised concerns regarding the condom ads. It mentioned that the Advertising Code bars any advertisement “which endangers the safety of children or create in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner”. Also, the code does not allow “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment” in ads.
The ministry, in its advisory, said, “all TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are for a particular age group and could be indecent/ inappropriate for viewing by children”. Therefore, to “avoid exposure of such material to children” and ensure “strict adherence” to the Cable Television Network Rules, it has restricted the airing of all condom ads between 10 pm and 6 am.
The step comes to a “couple of months” after the Advertising Standards Council of India–a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry–had written to the ministry stating that it could not govern the timings for such ads, based on complaints, and the ministry must take a stand on it, ASCI’s secretary general, Shweta Parundare told The Indian Express.
After the ministry had received complaints about condom ads it passed them on to the consumer complaints council of ASCI. The council, Parundare said, did not find the content of the ads objectionable, “given the context is of a condom”. However, she said that the other objections of the complainants were regarding timing, “We said that it is better that the ministry decides as a policy”.
Parundare said in its correspondence with the ministry on the complaints regarding the timing of these ads being aired and on the channels where the viewership of the children is much more, ASCI told the ministry that to decide when the ads could be aired was beyond its scope, and recommend that the ministry take a call.
This is not the first instance that such a move was mulled by the government. In 2015 as well, based on complaints regarding condom ads the government had thought of restricting its broadcast hours but decided against it. In 2007, under the Congress-led UPA regime, the I&B ministry had banned ads for two underwear brands, Lux Cozy and Amul Macho, calling them “indecent, vulgar and suggestive”.
In other instances, the I&B ministry has temporarily banned dozens of channels over the past decade for airing vulgar content, violating the Programme Code the Cable Television Network Rules. Channels that have been banned from going against the various provisions of the Programme Code, include Fashion TV, which first came into the government’s crosshairs when Sushma Swaraj was the I&B minister in 2001. Later it was ordered to be banned for 60 days by the UPA in 2007, but the order was later revoked. The channel was again banned for 9 days in 2010.