Kochi: Consumer Affairs Minister KV Thomas on Saturday said the government will soon come out with a policy mechanism to curb the practice of misleading ads in print and TV media that distort competition and violate the basic rights of the consumers. Expressing concern over a large number of misleading advertisements especially on health oils and tonics coming in print and TV media, he said the government is very serious about checking this menace.
"The influence of ads on consumer choice is undeniable. We have noticed that a lot of misleading ads especially on health tonics and oils are coming on print and TV media and this is a disturbing trend," Thomas said here. He was speaking at a seminar on consumer awareness, organised by the Consumer Affairs Ministry and Grand Kerala Shopping Festival here.
"Misleading ads distort competition and violate the basic rights of the consumers. We are in talks with stakeholders like corporate and media to come out with a policy mechanism to tackle this," he said. Echoing similar concerns, Consumer Affairs Secretary Pankaj Agrawal said the ministry through its various awareness programmes is sensitising consumers and business executives regarding consumer grievances and services.
"We are looking at the issue of misleading ads and are in talks with several stakeholders. The ministry will soon come out with an institutional mechanism to deal with such ads," Agrawal added. The government has drafted number of legislation that have provisions to deal with misleading claims and ads like the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1955, Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, etc., he said.
According to government data, the Food Safety Standards and Authority of India (FSSAI) has so far identified 38 food items with misleading claims. Manufacturer of these items were served show-cause notices and their replies were examined by FSSAI. As per recommendations given by the 3-member committee at FSSAI on these 38 cases, prosecutions have been launched in 19 cases.
At present, the content of ads aired on television, radio and print media, is being regulated by private bodies like the Advertising Standards Council of India and News Broadcasting Association. Currently, around 30-40 countries have self regulation on advertisement content. In some countries, there is an executive body or trade commission to monitor misleading advertisement.