MIB Issues Advisory for Misleading Advertisers

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had expressed concerns over the misleading & harmful ads for online gaming platforms. On Friday, December 4th, the MIB provided an advisory to all the private satellite television channels stating that this kind of real money winning platform advertisements should not promote itself as an alternative for gaining more income or another means of employment, and all the private TV channels will have to go along with the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on November 24, which will come into effect starting from December 15 onwards.

The Ministry’s advisory said that all broadcasters are recommended that the guidelines issued by ASCI are assembled with advertisements broadcast on television should stick to the guidelines of the ASCI. It may also be ensured that advertisements do not promote any activity which is statutorily prohibited or prohibited by law. They said that they have noticed a large number of advertisements on fantasy sports, online gaming, etc. have been appearing on television, and concerns were expressed regarding such advertisements which tend to be misleading or incorrectly conveying to the consumers the financial and other risks associated thereof, are not in strict accordance with the Advertising Code laid down under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

The MIB together with the ministry of electronics and information technology & the ministry of consumer affairs convened a stakeholders consultative meeting on November 11 with ASCI, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), The Online Rummy Federation (ORF) and the All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF). The ministry said after the consultations and discussions, that ASCI would issue proper guidelines for the sake of the broadcasters and advertisers to ensure that the advertisements are transparent and safeguard the interest of the consumers.

The guidelines by ASCI for online gaming ads are first of all No gaming advertisements should feature any person under the age of 18 playing an online game for real cash winnings or indicating that such persons could play this kind of game. Second of all, every such gaming ads must carry a disclaimer stating that this game involves financial risk and may be addictive and should play responsibly at your own risk. Such disclaimers should occupy at least 20% space in the advertisement and should also specifically meet disclaimer guidelines 4 (i) (ii) (iv) and (viii) laid out in the ASCI code. The Same disclaimer needs to be in both audio and visual formats in which the audio must be placed in a normal speaking pace with the same language as printed in the advertisement. The third one is that these ads should not present themselves as an income opportunity or another option for employment and also shouldn’t imply that the person engaged in this gaming activity is in any way achieved more success than compared to others.

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