18 Nov 2020 Patrick

I&B Ministry to Discuss Online Gaming TV Ads

I&B Ministry to Discuss Online Gaming TV Ads

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) will hold a 'consultative' meeting today to discuss online gaming TV advertisements.

A notice explains that the purpose of the meeting is to review whether ads by the likes of Mobile Premier League (MPL), Dream11, Naam11.com, and Dear Lottery are going against existing advertising and consumer protection regulations.

Among those attending the meeting are Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), and K. Madhavan, President, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF).

Various representatives from the online gaming industry will also be there including the Federation of India Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and The Online Rummy Federation (TORF).

The ads are going to be scrutinised under a provision of the advertising code of the Cable Television Network Act, which bans ads which could mislead the public into thinking a product has miraculous or supernatural qualities.

The MIB notice also quotes the ASCI's self-regulatory code, which requires transparency around ads encouraging people to partake in lotteries or prize competitions. According to the notice, the ASCI body has said that it does not have the competence to decide whether "MPL is conducting gambling" and that it does not have the mandate, authority, or competence to decide whether or not a specific product is banned under the law. Instead, the concerned regulator should investigate, ASCI has said.

Because gaming is a relatively new industry in India, the Cable TV Act or the ASCI's codes do not refer to them, the ministry noted. "The possibility of advertisements being misleading can always be there for such activities", it said.

The ministry also cited the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which prohibits false or misleading ads. Gaming companies have been criticised for suggesting its easy to win prizes online and, that with some skill, anyone can be a winner.

A poll conducted in September, showed a large majority want gaming advertisements banned.

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