In a fresh advisory, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has today advised media entities, media platforms and the online advertisement intermediaries to refrain from carrying advertisements/promotional content of betting platforms. This comes on a day the government has notified rules regulating online games.
MIB has taken strong exception to the recent instances of mainstream English and Hindi newspapers carrying advertisements and promotional content of betting websites. Without specifically naming the newspapers, the MIB has given examples of violations.
The Advisory has been issued to all media formats, including newspapers, television channels, and online news publishers, and showed specific examples where such advertisements have appeared in the media in recent times. This is a third instance of MIB issuing such an advisory. The first such advisory came in June 2022.
IPL is a peak season for the betting and gambling brands. MIB has also objected to the promotion by a specific betting platform encouraging the audience to watch a sports league on its website, which prima facie appears to be in violation of the Copyright Act, 1957.
While emphasizing on the legal obligation as well as the moral duty of the media, the Advisory refers to provisions of the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council which, interalia, mentions that “newspapers should not publish an advertisement containing anything which is unlawful or illegal…………”, and further that “The newspapers and periodicals should scrutinize the advertisement inputs from ethical as well as legal angles in view of the editor’s responsibility for all contents including advertisement, under Section 7 of PRB Act, 1867. Revenue generation alone cannot and should not be the sole aim of the Press, juxtaposed much larger public responsibility”.
Direct or surrogate advertisements of such activities falls foul of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and other relevant statutes. Earlier, the Consumer Protection Authority issues notices to surrogate betting brands.