I&B Ministry Wants Overtly Sexual Ads Taken Off Air
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The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry has shot off a letter to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), asking it to take action against a clutch of deodorant companies who in their advertisements continue to depict women as `objects of desire' and in a very poor light, in the next five days.

The ministry says these companies -- Wild Stone, Addiction Deo, Set Wet Zatak (Paras Pharma), Denver Deo and Axe (HUL) Cmmercials.-- are flagrantly violating the Advertising Code and the provisions of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1994.

"ASCI should take up the matter urgently with these advertisers. Either such offensive commercials should be taken off air or modified immediately," an I&B ministry official said.

Established in 1985, Mumbai-based ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry, promoting the cause of self-regulation in advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers.

ASCI's facebook page claims that "the aim of ASCI is to maintain and enhance the public's confidence in advertising. Their mandate is that all advertising material must be truthful, legal and honest, decent and not objectify women, safe for consumers - especially children and last but not the least, fair to their competitors."

Given this, the notice of the I&B ministry is to the point: "The depiction and portrayal of women in these ads are overtly sexual. The ads brim with messages aimed at tickling the libidinous male instincts and portrayal of women as lustily hankering after men under the influence of such deodorants."

"These ads appear indecent, vulgar and suggestive and hence violate provisions of Rule 7 of the Advertising Code. They appear to denigrate women and thus violate the cable laws," the ministry letter further states.

Complaints for deodorant ads have been high in the last two years, agrees Alan Collaco, secretary general, ASCI on its website.While ASCI has acted in some cases where it has felt the complaints have been valid, in many cases, it has decided that the advertising is not objectionable.

At ASCI, there are very specific guidelines, according to Alan Collaco. "Any visual that is not likely to cause grave or widespread offence is not a cause of concern. Most of these deodorant ads are played after 11pm on TV, outside family viewing timing," Collaco said.

The I&B ministry had earlier "prohibited transmission/re-transmission of FTV Channel with effect from 7.00 P.M. on 12th March, 2010 to till 7.00 P.M. on 21st March, 2010 through Cable Television Networks and any other platforms throughout the country" for "showing women with nude upper body which was offending against good taste and decency. The visuals, which were found to be obscene, denigrated women and were not suitable for children and unrestricted public exhibition."

The I&B ministry has had a mixed record in its endeavours and maintains on its website details of Orders/Warnings/Advisories issued to private TV channels for violation of Programme and Advertising Code.
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