ASCI addressing ad complaints in 12 days

Pressed with demand to quickly address the issue of misleading ads, advertising industry watchdog ASCI has reduced the time for action to 12 days from about 45 days earlier thereby increasing number of complaints processed by over ten times in almost three years.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has taken effective action to reduce the complaint processing turnaround time from 45 days two years back to just 12 days on an average currently, ASCI said in a statement.

ASCI said there have been demand from the public and regulators that ads which are misleading or make false claims; indecent; showing hazardous activities and unfair to competition should be promptly removed or modified.

The delivery of ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) decision on a complaint against an objectionable advertisement is now within a span of, on an average, just 12 days from the date complaint is received, it added.

Subsequently, ASCI said complaint processed by ASCI has increased more than 10 times.In April 2013 to February 2014 period (11 months), ASCI  handled complaints against 1,833 ads as compared to 784 in 2012-13, while in 2011-12 it was 176.

Commenting on the development, ASCI Chairman Partha Rakshit said, “ASCI’s effectiveness and credibility as an advertising self-regulatory organisation has increased several fold with speedier redressal of complaints and high compliance of its CCC’s decisions by advertisers.”

ASCI said it has been able to speed up the process as it brought changes in its working and system.

From monthly meetings two years ago, the CCC now meets weekly by having two CCCs instead of one earlier and total number of CCC members moving up from 21 to 28, it said.

More reliance on emails and technology has also helped reduce the turnaround time taken to process complaint and time provided to the advertiser to respond to it.

Intra-industry complaints among ASCI members are being resolved in just seven days via Fast Track Complaint (FTC) process which was introduced in 2012

ASCI said in the recent past it had introduced ‘Suspension Pending Investigation’ (SPI) by which it can order an extremely objectionable ad to be removed immediately pending investigation and decision of the CCC.

The body had also set up National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) to track print and TV of all ads against which complaints have been upheld.

“And results show that over 90 per cent of such ‘upheld complaints’ ads do not reappear or are appropriately modified,” it said.

ASCI has now started reporting non-compliant upheld ads to regulatory authorities, including Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Drug Controller General of India, Medical Council of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for taking action as per law, it added. 

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