DELHI: The government of India has advised television channels to restrict the times at which condom ads can be shown, saying contraceptive commercials “could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children”.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry’s advisory asks broadcasters to place a restriction on showing ads for condoms between 6 AM and 10 PM. It invokes a law from 1994, the Cable Television Ruling, which states that “No advertisement which endangers the safety of children or create in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner shall not be carried in the cable service”.

In addition, the ministry referred to a further article of the ruling: “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment shall be avoided in all advertisements”.

Failure to comply with the advisory “will attract attention”, it added.

The move follows “several complaints on the content of condom ads” from consumers to the Advertising Standards Council of India, according to Livemint.

The introduction of cheap condoms in the 1963, was a collective effort of government, business, academics, international funding agencies, and advertising agencies to help introduce family planning in the country in order to bring population growth under control.

Despite changing attitudes, the market has grown at a sluggish place, causing brands to look to new strategies. Rohit Ohri, group chairman at FCB India told The Economic Times that the advisory was a “misguided reform,” which he believed to be triggered by an ad from Manforce featuring the Bollywood star, and former adult actor Sunny Leone.

“If the Sunny Leone advertisement is offensive, we should ban that advertisement and not regulate all condom advertising”. In a country where condom use is low, “creating taboos is not the answer”, Ohri contended

Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has welcomed the advisory, as “such ads often violate our social values”, it said, adding without evidence that ads can also have an “adverse impact on growing children especially teenagers”. CAIT went on to suggest that the brand ambassadors should me made accountable.

In September, the same organisation lodged a complaint against the Manforce ad, having taken issue with an activation ahead of the Hindu festival Navratri.  

Sourced from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Livemint, India Today, Business Standard, The Economic Times, BBC; additional content by WARC Staff