Employees arrange packets of condoms for packaging (Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg)  

No Condom Ads On TV Between 6 am And 10 pm, Says I&B Ministry

The Indian government today issued an advisory to television channels restricting the broadcast of condom advertisements between 6 in the morning and 10 in the night, and imposed a penalty for failure to do so.

Condom advertisements could be “indecent or inappropriate” for viewing by children hence they should be on telecast after 10 pm to “avoid exposure of such material to children”, the Information and Broadcasting ministry said in its advisory.

The punishment for contravening the provisions of the cable network rules include imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both on the first offence. For every subsequent offence, the imprisonment terms may extend to five years and the fine may extend to Rs 5,000, the advisory said.

The ministry cited the Advertisement Code in the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, which state that “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes” should be avoided in all advertisements. It pointed to also another clause which states that advertisements which arouse “interest in unhealthy practices” and “endanger the safety of children” shall not be carried on cable services.

The ministry noted that channels carry condom advertisements repeatedly despite the specific mention in the rules and warned that failure to ensure “strict adherence” will attract action as per the provision of the rules.

The move comes within days of the self-regulating Advertising Standards Council of India's request to the ministry to ensure that condom advertisements be aired only during the “watershed hours”.

The ASCI and the I&B ministry received several complaints from people who felt these ads were being aired during family viewing hours when children were watching television, said Shweta Purandare, secretary general of ASCI.

The consumer complaint council of the advertisement body saw these ads, did not find anything objectionable and hence did not uphold these complaints, Purandare told BloombergQuint. However, it took cognisance of the public outcry and decided to recommend to the ministry that they should set some watershed hours for airing condom commercials, she added.

Now advertisers have two choices – either tone down the content of condom ads, or else air it during the late night hours, she said.

Watch this discussion with former Secretary for Health and Family Welfare Sujatha Rao, Secretary General of ASCI Shweta Purandare and Brand Strategy Specialist Harish Bijoor.