The government has done it again. Banned television channels from airing condom advertisement between 6am (Prayer Time) to 10pm (lights switch off time). The channels have been asked to strictly adhere to the provisions contained in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
They have bulldozed into the decency of your mostly private life curtailing possible damaging exposure to indecent material. I am sure the government has logic, rationale and deeply researched consumer behaviour behind the decision. It is a powerful statement of adherence to the old classically traditional media thinking in an era of smart phone and digital invasion of senses.
The industry watchdog ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) in its proactive self-regulation stance based on repeated objections on condom advertising demanded I&B Ministry directive. With condoms as a context, the content was hardly objectionable but the timing was. It seems the ad was aired on programmes with high children viewer-ship. Can someone from BARC help with data and clear the mystery?
Something changed between 2015 and 2017, then too the government considered such an action, but then it did not restrict the telecast hours for condom ads. It must have been with the recent Playgard ads, which have pushed the envelope a bit more with Bipasha Basu steaming the screen.
The ministry quoting rules 7(7) and 7(8) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, “no advertisement, which endangers the safety of children or creates in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent, manner shall be carried in the cable service” and “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment shall be avoided in all advertisements,” banned them for 66% of the day. In fact, they extended it from ASCI suggested 11pm to 5am timeband to 10am to 6am.
The argument that condom ads could be indecent and inappropriate for viewing by children seems genuine. I agree with them.
KS to Manforce to Playgard advertisements have shown us how audiovisual can artistically exploit the carnal desire for pleasure. It is natural the brands sidestep government-supported cultural stance of pregnancy, prevention and protection from STD as the main use of condoms while visualising the script.
That leads to a simple question. Is it media or the audience? Why is traditionally media that is targeted for a controlled assault? Is this about what you can control vs. What must be controlled vs. what we should keep away from the kids?
There will be differential point of view and arguments that will further confuse me.
Though I sometime too squirm in my seat when Bipasha moans or Sunny suggests something on the screen, I believe that time-slot censoring is archaic and must be done away with. It has to be fair to all.
Nevertheless, it does not answer my doubts.
When condom advertising is being deregulated globally, why are we stepping back? When we should be answering the impressionable minds about pleasure, pain and precautions, why we are pushing them to other sources for unverified content. Not that one can control it.
Will it help to air the ad only when the kids are sleeping?
If the Myntra ad ( Visit ) with a different sexual orientation could be aired in a country where same-sex marriage is not legalised, why not allow traditional knowledge of KamaSutra be shared artistically. I know; this line of thinking is just a diversion. I welcome advertisement, which reflects more of today.
What about the kid who digitally accesses content, including the condom ads? They laugh and share things like ‘10 funny condom ads’. What about Bipasha, Sunny and Bedi being shared on whatsapp and featured in Magazine and newspapers?
On outdoor, harmless ad from Manforce was questioned during Navratri in Gujarat by people who abstain from sex during the period.
If the same logic of impressionable mind was used to censor movies with intense shots and suggestive item numbers, the industry will have to close down.
What about OTT platform and digital arena where the condom ads can be screened repeatedly? It is available, accessible and now with JIO and others affordable.
Nothing much changes. Brands have been forced a media choice. No way have we stopped the impressionable minds from seeing these ads.
So what could be done other than certifying ads for time slot.
‘U’ for anytime viewing, ‘UA’ for between 6 to 10pm, ‘A’ after 10pm and A+ only between 2am and 4am. And for a moment why not do what we don’t want. Necessarily certify certain categories of ads for time slot and ASCI could form a guideline and do the job. This kind of self-regulation should be okay.
At the same time, we request and require I&B ministry to ensure the kids do not access such material digitally. It is impossible for kids not to do so and impossible for the ministry to stop.
Can the ministry ensure that these ads are no longer reviewed before Maggi, Rasna, Dinshaw or Complan commercials on YouTube?
There is one solution. What if we link internet access to Aadhaar Card? Yes, that is brilliant. Then ask Google, Facebook, Instagram and such access platforms to adhere to Indian guidelines.
I told you, I was as confused as my government sending out mixed signals to the industry.
Do share your point of view and help remove this confusion.