Experts urge govt to penalise rogue advertisers without curtailing free speech

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi pointed to the self-regulatory frameworks of major digital advertising platforms like Google and Meta. These platforms enforce strict guidelines and penalise advertisers who violate them by blacklisting their accounts, which serves as a strong deterrent.

By  Storyboard18 | CNBC - TV18Jul 8, 2024 8:30 AM
Experts urge govt to penalise rogue advertisers without curtailing free speech
According to Lloyd Mathias, there is a need for measures that penalise rogue advertisers without compromising freedom of expression. He proposed methods such as temporary bans on advertising for repeat offenders to ensure accountability and integrity in advertising practices. (From left to right: Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO and Co-Founder of Gozoop Group; Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director of The Dialogue; Gowree Gokhale, Partner at Nishith Desai Associates; Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Investor) (Still from the video)

Note to viewers: Revised advisory issued on July 3 by MIB on Food & Health sector only with a provision of an annual declaration.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), On June 3, adhering to a Supreme Court directive, announced a new mandate requiring advertisers and ad agencies to submit a Self-Declaration Certificate (SDC) before any ad publication or broadcast. The initiative aims to curb misleading advertisements and protect consumers, but achieving this goal remains a significant challenge.

To delve into the impact of these measures on the advertising industry, Storyboard18's editor Delshad Irani spoke with Gowree Gokhale, Partner at Nishith Desai Associates; Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Investor; Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director of The Dialogue; and Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO and Co-Founder of Gozoop Group.

According to Mathias, there is a need for measures that penalise rogue advertisers without compromising freedom of expression. He proposed methods such as temporary bans on advertising for repeat offenders to ensure accountability and integrity in advertising practices.

“The government has kind of, put the onus or responsibility on advertisers, who, in turn, have pushed it to the agencies. And at the second level, they have also put the onus in a sense on broadcasters and media owners, saying, you guys are the second level of defence. However, the real problem is rogue advertisers who have made misleading claims and who have actually misled people, which possibly triggered this whole exercise in the first place. And, therefore, I think the onus has to shift in terms of how do you monitor rogue advertisers without creating a censorship issue,” Mathias stated.

“I think the idea should be how do we reinforce integrity, and how do you penalise rogue advertisers? If someone has been an offender, I think there has to be a method where he or she gets penalised. If you've deliberately made a false claim, despite certification of which there are regulations in place, do you get banned from media, so to speak, so no advertiser registered in this country can take your communication for a six-month period? That will make advertisers far more cognisant about their responsibility to society. And like I said, there will always be rogue elements, like there is in any society. But I think the issue that needs to be resolved is at that end. What we have really done is right now just complicated the whole issue. At one level, we talk of the ease of doing business, I think this has just needlessly thrown open a can of worms," he added.

He also suggests a system of naming and shaming as a potential solution to enforce integrity within the industry.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Aftab Naqvi pointed to the self-regulatory frameworks of major digital advertising platforms like Google and Meta. These platforms enforce strict guidelines and penalise advertisers who violate them by blacklisting their accounts, which serves as a strong deterrent.

Naqvi suggested that adopting similar punitive measures, such as advertiser blacklisting, could effectively deter deceptive practices in traditional media.

First Published on Jul 8, 2024 8:20 AM

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