Following a Supreme Court directive, the government mandates self-declaration certificates for advertisers.

In a historic move to ensure responsible advertising, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) stated that marketers and advertising agencies must now submit a ‘self-declaration certificate’ before publishing or broadcasting any commercials. This directive follows a Supreme Court judgment issued on May 7, 2024, in response to the Indian Medical Association vs. Union of India litigation, which highlighted Patanjali Ayurveda’s false ads.

The new law requires the certificate to indicate that the commercial contains no misleading statements and complies with relevant regulatory guidelines, such as Rule 7 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and the Press Council of India’s Norms of Journalistic Conduct. Advertisers must provide verification of their self-declaration to the relevant broadcaster, printer, publisher, or electronic media outlet.

To help in this process, the MIB has added new elements to the Broadcast Seva Portal for TV and radio ads, as well as the Press Council of India’s portal for print and digital ads. These portals will allow advertisers to submit forms that must be signed by an authorized representative and include information such as the advertisement’s title, product description, full script, and projected date of publishing or transmission. If relevant, please provide a copy of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) certificate.

This mandate will be implemented on June 18, 2024, with a two-week transition time to allow stakeholders to adjust to the new requirements. Ongoing advertising is currently exempt from the certification process.

The Supreme Court stressed the importance of a rigorous framework to monitor conformity to advertising restrictions, notably in preventing misleading claims. The court emphasized the shared obligation of advertisers, agencies, and endorsers, including influencers and celebrities, to ensure accurate advertising.

While the measure is intended to increase openness and consumer protection, it has raised concerns in the advertising sector. Anupam Mittal, CEO of People Group, blasted the rule as “completely unviable,” claiming that it will raise prices and reduce Indian digital advertisers’ worldwide competitiveness.

Despite these limitations, the MIB believes the regulation is an important step toward responsible advertising practices. The rising digital advertising business, which is expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2028, highlights the need for strict monitoring to safeguard consumers from deceptive advertisements. As the industry adjusts to these new criteria, the efficacy and enforceability of the self-declaration procedure, especially in the changing digital context, remain to be seen.

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