Self-Declaration Certificate mechanism comes into effect: All you need to know about guidelines, applicability

Starting 18th June, advertisers have started to comply with the 'self-declaration certificate'- a directive by Supreme Court to curb the misleading ads. Over the past few weeks, industry stakeholders have urged the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to extend or postpone the implementation, and raised serious concerns.

By  Storyboard18Jun 19, 2024 9:04 AM
Self-Declaration Certificate mechanism comes into effect: All you need to know about guidelines, applicability
The SDC is required to be obtained by all advertisers and advertising agencies for all new advertisements that is issued/telecast/aired/published on or after 18th June, 2024. The certificate is mandated for all advertising agencies and advertisers publishing the ads. However, government tenders, public notices, obituary ads, and classified ads are excluded from the purview. (Image: Unsplash)

Despite challenges highlighted and concerns raised by various advertising and media industry stakeholders and bodies, the 'self-declaration certificate' has come into effect and is made mandatory for all sorts of advertisers, starting today i.e. 18th June.

Following the Supreme Court directive in its Order dated May 7, 2024, that all advertisers/ advertising agencies must submit a SDC before publishing or broadcasting any advertisement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) made it mandatory and introduced a new feature on the Broadcast Seva Portal of the MIB for TV and Radio Advertisements and on Press Council of India’s portal for Print and Digital/Internet Advertisements, in the beginning of this month. The certificate, signed by an authorised representative of the advertiser/advertising agency, needs to be submitted through these portals.

The SDC is required to be obtained by all advertisers and advertising agencies for all new advertisements that is issued/telecast/aired/published on or after 18th June, 2024. The certificate is mandated for all advertising agencies and advertisers publishing the ads.

However, government tenders, public notices, obituary ads, and classified ads are excluded from the purview.

The mechanism has been applauded by handful of advocates who think it will rightly curb the misleading advertisements. However, industry bodies like FICCI, ASCI, ISA, INS, IBDF and IAMAI, have been engaged in intense deliberations over the SDC mechanism issue, over the past two weeks. Stakeholders and industry bodies expressed concerns about the ambiguities in the directive and called it impractical. Finding difficulty in navigating through the portal, many also urged MIB to extended the implementation date.

Let's take a look through all key challenges and representations of various stakeholders:

Concerns and voices:

• In its letter to MIB, dated 7th June, Indian Broadcasting & Digital Foundation highlighted overarching impact on all the stakeholders and requested MIB to extend compliance period by 45 days. It added that the time granted is insufficient to ensure compliance by all the stakeholders. Further, it feels that such a transition should also be in line with the Government’s stated policy on Ease of Doing Business.

• In its letter on May 27 and then again in its representation on June 10, and in the meeting with MIB on June 11, the Indian Society of Advertisers acknowledged the responsibility of advertisers to abide by the applicable laws and regulations and engage in truthful advertising but noted the challenges advertisers may face over SDC. Apart from IBDF, ISA too have written to the I&B Ministry to postpone the implementation of the self-declaration until the concerns are heard by the Supreme Court on July 9. ISA noted that the current upload/ platform provided by MIB to submit SDC is not secure, and it seems people could have access to all the materials you upload. Also, the portal is "laggy" and tends to hang a lot.

• While the advertising industry at large welcomed the regulation, many feared that the SDC mechanism would lead to a time-consuming, cost and labour-intensive work which will not provide the desired outcome.

• Additionally, its need has been questioned given bodies like ASCI and Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) already exist.

• Several advertisers that Storyboard18 spoke to said they have rescheduled campaign releases, advancing the release of new campaigns and ads before June 18. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has advised its members not to issue any new advertisements without a SDC after June 18. Any new ad post June 18th can be released with the SDC as mandated by the Supreme Court and as notified by MIB.

“Brand communication decisions that need to be timely for effective market output will get delayed with the number of naysayers and risk avoiders increasing across every milestone. The focus could shift from identifying real consumer insights (hypotheses yet to be validated) to limiting innovation and staying within the boundaries of the tried and tested (already approved by legal) leading to run-of-the-mill products and communication,” Janani Kandaswamy, Senior Category Lead - Brand Marketing, ITC, told Storyboard18.

Finding no resolution:

MIB concluded the meeting of media and ad industry bodies and stakeholders on June 11 where industry stakeholders raised their concerns about the viability of the SDC mechanism and impact on the advertising and media industries. According to sources close to the development, the meeting saw no resolutions. Chaired by MIB Secretary Sanjay Jaju, the meeting saw the participation of representatives from the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation, Advertising Standards Council of India, Digital News Publishers of India (DNPA), Google and senior media executives.

Industry stakeholders are considering legal recourse and asking for the Supreme Court's intervention. While the advertising industry and related bodies want to abide by the applicable laws and regulations and engage in truthful advertising, the order and SDC mechanism have made compliance impossible.

All eyes on July 9

On July 9 the MIB will be submitting an affidavit on the actions taken so far on SDC in the top court. It will also have the opportunity to present reactions of stakeholders to the mandatory SDC directive and mechanism, and their representations.


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First Published on Jun 18, 2024 6:22 PM

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