New Delhi: Mr. Manoj Parida, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MoCA),has acknowledged self-regulation when it comes to dealing with misleading advertisements, at the same time he stated that it is important to have powerful execution backed by a Government Authority. At a round table organized here by FICCI on 'Misleading Advertisements' he appreciated the efforts of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) in committing itself to the cause of self-regulation in advertising and ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers.
Parida suggested that the newly-formed Inter-Ministerial Monitoring Committee, which has been constituted with the sole aim of monitoring misleading advertisements for protecting consumers, could serve as the missing executive arm to ASCI. The Committee will monitor misleading advertisement and unfair trade practices and suggest steps accordingly, he added.
Kurush Grant, Chairman, FICCI FMCG Committee & ED, ITC Ltd.,said that FICCI has planned an excellent interaction with all the key stakeholders on every aspect of misleading advertisements. The stakeholders being the NGOs and consumer forums, industry, self-regulatory body and the government and it is worth to record that all the four segments have unanimously agreed to work towards similar solution of empowering self-regulation. FICCI would work closely with ASCI and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to tackle the menace caused by misleading advertisements.
Elaborating on the role of ASCI and its future plan, Mr. Partha Rakshit, Chairman, ASCI,
said that obtaining legal authority for enforcing compliance of ASCI decisions on print ad complaints as it has for TV (Cable TV Act) is one of the top most priorities and urged the government to facilitate the process. ASCI plans to cover social media (in internet) more extensively. It is also launching an online training programme on ASCI regulations targeted at young copywriters, agency executives and product managers in manufacturing/service companies to make them aware of.
Speaking on consumer rights and remedies with regard to misleading advertisements, Ms. Ruth Anna Buettner, Director – Consumer Policy & Protection, GIZ, said that misleading and unfair practices were a global phenomenon. She added that the purpose of regulation should be proper functioning of markets and protection of individual consumer, mainly his contractual rights. Worldwide there are two ways of enforcement, one via public authority the other via courts, both accompanied by self-regulation institutions.
Deliberating on the regulatory framework for misleading advertisements, Ms. Aazmeen Kasad, Owner, Aazmeen Kasad and Law Practice Consultant, said that to keep a vigil on the increasing incidents of misleading advertisements, the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC), apex body for consumer protection in India, has recently decided to draft guidelines to safeguard consumer interest from false advertisements in the country and set up a sub-committee to suggest strategies to deal with celebrity endorsements.

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