NEW DELHI: The Indian government has distributed a list of over 40 television spots that should not be aired as they make misleading claims - a crackdown that could soon extend to other forms of media.

Acting on advice from the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Information and Broadcasting Ministry decided that ads breaching the ASCI's voluntary code also broke the advertising code enshrined in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, and thus could not be carried on TV channels.

"We found that some advertisers on television channels, especially teleshopping networks, were not complying with ASCI's decisions," said Partha Rakshit, chairman, ASCI, in remarks reported by Livemint.

This was particularly true of businesses making exaggerated claims for health products and for solutions to financial problems.

Similarly, the ASCI recently issued strict guidelines on advertisements covering fairness creams, instructing brands to refrain from showing dark-skinned people in a negative light. 

Shweta Purandare, the ASCI's secretary general, warned that broadcasters who ignored the ruling could face legal action. And, she added, the ASCI is now looking at extending its review to look at ads in other forms of media.

The financial implications for broadcasters are potentially significant in a market where television shopping is worth a reported $500m and growing at an annual rate of around 50%. The head of one Hindi news channel told Livemint that a channel could lose up to Rs6 crore a year, depending on its viewership numbers.

But Manu Agarwal, chief executive of teleshopping platform Naaptol, was more optimistic. "The first generation of the teleshopping industry for a long time has been known for magical remedies," he said. "With this move of the government, that will go away and pave the way for next generation teleshopping."

Data sourced from Livemint; additional content by Warc staff