Thursday, November 17, 2011

Soni advocates self regulation by media to check misleading adv

Advocating self regulation in the broadcast sector, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Thursday said that it is better to maintain self regulation rather than formulating laws over misleading advertisements.

The Minister also asked the self-regulatory bodies in the broadcast sector to increase their memberships for effective participation of all sections and be sensitive to the needs of the public.
This, she said, would help reflect the true status of the broadcasting sector and help in effective participation of smaller players in the sector.
"Self regulatory mechanism has been in place and they should keep hearing the public voices in this regard and work accordingly," Soni said while addressing a public discussion on "Strengthening self-regulation of advertising content" organised by the Advertising Standards Council of India.
On Justice Katju's comments that self-regulation had not worked in the broadcast sector, she said, "please do not misunderstand Justice Katju. He is a very eminent jurist. Even during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge, he gave some very path-breaking judgments."
She said he has initiated a very important debate.
The issue he has again brought to the public arena is one which have been raised by Justice P B Sawant and Justice G N Ray.
A GoM was constituted in January this year in this regard.
"In a democracy, unless you have a debate and dialogue on issues, especially which are of concern to the common person, you cannot arrive at a final solution. I think Justice Katju and a man of his eminence has rearticulated issues which are being raised from time to time. But no one has taken any firm step on them. Let there be a debate. Yesterday also, he had initiated a debate and something will come out of it," she said.
On more powers for the Press Council of India, Soni said, "they needed powers but there has to be a consensus".
She said every political party, which had been in power, tried to bring a National Broadcasting Bill but there is no consensus.
She, however, said "if the nation wants stricter rules, Parliament is there. But there has to be majority view.... there are areas where we need to work on."
Citing the growth in the broadcasting sector with over 800 channels at the national and regional level, she said this would also enhance the effectiveness of self regulation and make the environment responsive to the needs of consumers.
The Minister said it was critical for every stakeholder in the industry to work with sensitivity towards the hopes and aspirations of the people.
Self Regulation as a process needed to be in a state of constant evolution so as to address critical concerns that arose from time to time, she said.
She added it was necessary to believe in this process in view of the changes taking place within the industry which offered tremendous opportunities for the advertising sector to become one of the principal engines of growth.
"The advertisements should be meant to interest people to sell products and should be made keeping in view public taste...The self regulatory system should also change accordingly as per public demand," she said.

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