Need mechanism to tackle misleading ads: ThomasNovember 17th, 2011 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Aiming to protect the interest of consumers, the government is seriously looking at complaints about misleading advertisements and debating how to tackle the issue, Consumer Affairs Minister K.V. Thomas said Thursday.
“Is self-regulation adequate to deal with the problem or do we need to bring in a new law… Will the existing laws work if they are brought in tune with the times or do we need a new regulation,” asked Thomas.
He was addressing a seminar on ‘Strengthening Self Regulation of Advertising Content’ organised by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
The minister said since several ministries like health and information and broadcasting are involved in the implementation of laws to check such ads, the government is “considering an inter-ministerial committee to look at ways and means of making these laws and regulations effective”.
He said there was demand for an independent regulator who would authenticate or certify all health-related ads before they are released on the basis of substantiation provided by the advertiser.
Pointing out that the Consumer Protection Act provides for protection of consumers from unfair trade practices and the consumer courts have delivered some excellent judgments regarding misleading ads, the minister said “there is a clamour among consumers for a comprehensive and effective mechanism to put a stop to ads that violate their basic rights to choose information and safety”.
He said the absence of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission, which looks at false and misleading advertisements, is also being felt.
“I am particularly worried about health and nutrition related advertisements that blatantly mislead consumers and particularly target the highly vulnerable groups like children, senior citizens and those suffering from health problems,” said Thomas.
He mentioned that most of the misleading advertisements are not issued by fly-by-night companies, but big corporations, who could even be members of ASCI.
He referred to cases such as that of Piramal Healthcare on ‘Getting complete energy in 8 days or Money back’, the AIRTEL Digital TV advertisement offering ‘Free Regional Pack for life’ and the one on NUZEN Gold hair oil.
“These are all cases which could not substantiate their claims when questioned by the ASCI,” said Thomas.
–Indo-Asian News service
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