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Advertising and Standard Council Act of India

In India, as in several advanced economies, there is only one body for Self-Regulation in Advertising the ASCI, which is concerned with safeguarding the interests of consumers whilst monitoring/guiding the commercial communications of Practitioners in Advertising on behalf of advertisers, for advertisements carried by the Media, in their endeavours to influence buying decisions of the Consuming Public.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) established in 1985 is a voluntary self-regulatory council, registered as a not-for-profit Company under section 25 of the Indian Cos. Act with the objective of ensuring that all advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful along with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and to the rules of fair competition.

The sponsors of the ASCI, who are its principal members, are firms of considerable repute within industries in India, which comprise of advertisers, media, and advertising agencies and other professional or ancillary services connected with advertising practice. The ASCI is not a Government body, nor does it formulate rules for the public or for the relevant industries.

It has adopted a Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising. It is a commitment to honest advertising and to fair competition in the market-place. It stands for the protection of the legitimate interests of consumers and all concerned with advertising advertisers, media, advertising agencies and others who help in the creation or placement of advertisements.

Objectives of ASCI:

The main objects to be pursued by the Company on its incorporation are: To monitor administer and promote standards of advertising practices in India with a view to.
  1. Ensuring the truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made through advertising and safeguarding against misleading advertising.
  2. Ensuring that Advertising is not offensive to generally accepted norms and standards of public decency.
  3. Safeguarding against the indiscriminate use of advertising for the promotion of products or services, which are generally regarded as hazardous to society or to individuals or which are unacceptable to society as a whole.
  4. Ensuring that advertisements observe fairness in competition and the canons of generally accepted competitive behaviour.
  5. To codify adopt and from time to time modify the code of advertising practices in India and implement, administer and promote and publicize such a code.
  6. To provide facilities and machinery in the form of one or more Consumer Complaints Councils having such composition and with such powers as may be prescribed from time to time to examine complaints against advertisements in terms of the Code of Advertising practices and report thereon.
  7. To give wide publicity to the Code and seek adherence to it of as many as possible of those engaged in advertising.
  8. To print and publish pamphlets, leaflets, circulars or other literature or material that may be considered desirable for the promotion of or carrying out of the objects of the Company and disseminate it through any medium of communication.

Consumer Complaints Council:

The Board of Governors shall appoint Consumer Complaints Council, the number of members of which shall not be more than twenty one. Out of these 21 members, 12 are from civil society and nine from advertising practitioners. The CCC decides upon the complaints within a period of 4 to 6 weeks. The Consumer Complaints Council shall examine and investigate the complaints received from the consumers and the general public, including the members of the Company, regarding any breach of the Code of Conduct and/or advertising ethics and recommend the action to be taken in that regards.

Power of the Consumer Complaints Council:

  1. Each Council shall be entitled to receive complaints from the Board of Governors, the Consumers, the general public and members of the Company.
  2. Each Council shall enquire, investigate and decide upon the complaints received by it within the framework of the Code of Conduct adopted by the Company.
  3. All the decisions of each Council shall be by simple majority, in writing and may specify the action to be taken in respect of the offending advertisement.

ASCI propagates its Code and a sense of responsibility for its observance amongst advertisers, advertising agencies and others connected with the creation of advertisements, and the media. ASCI encourages the public to COMPLAIN against advertisements with which they may be unhappy for any reason and ensures that each complaint receives a prompt and objective consideration by an impartial committee Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) which takes into account the view point of the advertiser, and an appropriate decision is communicated to all concerned. ASCI endeavours to achieve compliance with its decisions through reasoned persuasion and the power of public opinion.

ASCI's Mission:

ASCI has one overarching goal- to maintain and enhance the public's confidence in advertising. ASCI seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation which requires advertisements to be:
  1. Truthful and fair to consumers and competitors.
  2. Within the bounds of generally accepted standards of public decency and propriety.
  3. Not used indiscriminately for the promotion of products, hazardous or harmful to society or to individuals particularly minors, to a degree unacceptable to society at large.

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