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      Supreme Court Makes Self-Declaration Mandatory For All Advertisers

      Published Date

      July-2-24

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      2 Min Read
      Self Declaration Mandatory For All Advertisers

      UPDATE: The Supreme Court has superseded its previous directives with a new advisory that only mandates Food & Health sectors in India to upload an annual self-declaration certificate on the same suggested portals to the concerned media stakeholders such as Television channels, internet advertisements, print media etc.

      Historically, information concerning products has always relied on advertisements. In 2024, advertisements still remain the largest demand creator among consumers. Unlike decades or centuries before, we now have more and newer forms of ads. Aside from the traditional ways, the advent of short-form and graphic content on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and so on where influencers and social media dominate the narrative, has put the focus on ethical considerations now more than ever. There is thus a genuine need for governing bodies to monitor advertising and ensure responsible practices. This is why the Supreme Court of India’s latest directive issued on 7th May 2024 is a major step towards safeguarding transparency and putting a chain on misleading ads in the country.

      India’s leading court has now made it mandatory for all advertisers and advertising agencies to submit a certificate of self-declaration. The certificate is required to be signed by an authorised representative of the concerned business entity. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has reiterated the court’s mandate to upload the self-declaration certificate on the Broadcast Seva Portal in case of TV and radio advertisements and on the Press Council of India website for print, digital and internet advertisements. This new order applies to all new advertisements that will be issued/telecast/aired/published on or after June 18, 2024.

      What Is The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Hoping To Achieve?

      The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on the direction of the Supreme Court has created streamlined and accessible portals for all self declaration certificate fillings. The primary aim is to ensure all advertisement campaigns that run on television, print media, or internet are subjected to compliance with relevant laws, rules and regulations. 

      Adherence to regulatory guidelines which are provided under rule 7 of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 and the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of Press Council of India is now no longer up for debate. The mandate now asks every advertiser to file their declaration certificate stating complete agreement with the aforementioned statutes. This circular which has been issued by the ministry is a reflection of the country’s apex court’s attempt and due diligence to stop advertisers from running misleading campaigns that besides damaging consumer trust also jeopardizes the resources and wealth of the common populace. The following is a list of benefits that filing a self declaration certificate offers:

      • Business Accountability & Improved Transparency: Advertising agencies/advertisers can now be held accountable for every action that they initiate. This mandate facilitates the creation of a transparent ecosystem where businesses compete with each other fairly and consumers are not manipulated into buying products. 
      • Stringent Consumer Protection: Safeguarding the consumer from false claims and deceptive practices is the government’s duty. In a market economy, businesses deserve a large playing ground but never by exploiting the consumer’s faith and trust. This mandate is not taking away the scope from advertising companies and individuals- instead, it reinforces the presence of an ethically accurate playing ground which because of its fairness is due to provide growing opportunities for every stakeholder involved.
      • Promotion of Responsible & Ethically Correct Advertisement Practices: This order prevents companies from succumbing to reputational damage. By setting a standard within the industry, it pushes companies to conduct the best practices in their content creation.

      An evaluation done through the Advertising Standards Council of India in the year 2023-24 on 8,299 advertisements found that around 81% fell into the category of misleading advertisements, with 94% of the infringements identified through proactive monitoring. We have even previously seen both the Supreme Court & High Court intervening on brands like Patanjali & Zydus Wellness Products for launching misleading advertisement campaigns. This mandate is thus a very welcome one that stresses the importance of economic growth and prosperity without consumer exploitation.

      As An Advertiser, What Are Your To-Do’s?

      Advertising entities are now required to oblige to the following:

      • An Authorising Letter: Every advertising agency/advertiser has to have an individual whom they are authorising on their business’ behalf to fill and submit the self declaration certificate. The certificate must be accompanied by a letter of authorization where the entity puts in the details of that individual concerned.
      • Full Advertisement Script: Providing a complete written script of the to be published or broadcasted advertisement has now been made compulsory. The script has to be inclusive of every dialogue, voiceover or text that is featured in the ad. In case of an ad video or audio, the actual video/audio file has to be now submitted through an URL.
      • Other Optional Requirements: In case, the advertisement is certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, the advertiser has to provide a copy of that same certification. If there are GST details related to the advertised products/services, the advertiser can dispense that information too.

      The Road Ahead

      Strengthening laws and regulations concerning advertising practices is a serious concern. Upgradation of existing protocols should therefore always be on the mind of the statutory authorities. Implementation of mandates that envision a higher transparency without censoring business practices is a beneficial move for all. These orders ensure a collaborative endeavour between the government, the functioning businesses in India and the common consumer population. By focusing on these areas, India now aims to uphold and protect its consumer’s rights through the creation of such an easy-to-access framework for everyone.

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