India bans condom adverts during primetime TV

Smriti Irani

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has passed an order that says condom ads can only be telecast between 10pm and 6am and not in prime time.

The information and broadcasting ministry on Monday issued an advisory directing television channels against telecasting condom advertisements between 6 am and 10 pm, attributing the decision to complaints that some channels aired the ads repeatedly and that they were unsuitable for viewing.

The ministry cited 1994 rules banning commercials that "endanger the safety of children or create in them any interest in unhealthy practices or show them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner".

Media baron and head of leading news daily Times of India, Vineet Jain, called it "senseless censorship" in his tweet.

Talking openly about contraception and sex is still largely taboo in India.

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The ministry, while adding that the condom advertisements should only be aired late night till early morning, cautioned all TV channels to ensure strict adherence to the provisions of Cable Television Networks Rules. Condom ads have especially come under fire as the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received a lot of complaints regarding the suggestive material of the ads. And, it has also warned the channels to not overstep the ruling and obey the rules, because if not, "Any failure will attract action as per provisions of the rules".

"We follow the ASCI's code on advertising and subject ourselves to deep internal scrutiny", a company spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

"There are 13 per cent unwanted pregnancies in India, there are almost 15 million abortions".

"[It is] poised to undo decades of progress on sexual and reproductive health", said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India.

In September, one such ad featuring Sunny drew protests from a Surat-based group.

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