On Sunday, during the telecast of 2nd ODI of India vs West Indies, DD Sports which partnered with FanCode to telecast the series on Free-to-Air basis violated Parliament approved ‘Code on Commercial Advertising on Doordarshan’ by telecasting ads related to betting and gambling.
Doordarshan which forms part of Prasar Bharati, India’s public service broadcaster is under the supervision of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and is required to comply with the Commercial Advertising Code approved by the Parliament.
This Advertising Code was presented to the Parliament in 1987 and lays down 33 do’s and dont’s for the advertisers on Doordarshan platforms. Among the dont’s is promotion of betting on horse racing or any other games of chance.
So when ads related to FairPlayNews, a surrogate brand for betting company FairPlay incorporated in Curacao were telecasted, DD Sports not only violated the MIB Advisory released last month but also the Parliament approved Advertising Code specifically applicable to Doordarshan.
It is not clear how much control DD has over the advertisements as the original rights holder is FanCode. Earlier this month, Doordarshan tied up with FanCode, to show the matches on its free-to-air sports channel DD Sports. As per a report on InsideSport, ad revenue is shared 75:25 between FanCode and Doordarshan.
The entire chain of events which has seen India’s public service broadcaster violating the laws of India require a thorough investigation. It must also be seen whether ‘Guidelines for Acquisition of Programs’ laid down by Prasar Bharati were complied with or not for the transaction with FanCode.
The non-action by MIB till now creates a doubt on the connivance of officials of Prasar Bharati in promoting illegal betting websites.