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TV ‘magic’ merchants take a blow
- Teleshopping Ads taken off air after complaints

New Delhi, Aug. 29: The nocturnal trysts with promises to get slimmer, fairer — even hairier — have been dealt a body blow.

Over 40 “dubious” teleshopping ads, many of them offering “magical cures” to a range of cosmetic, health and lifestyle problems, not to speak of “divine and celestial intervention”, have gone off air following an “advisory” from the Centre. The crackdown follows complaints to an advertisers’ body, which urged the government to take action.

The ads with unsubstantiated claims, like magical cures of ailments, shields against black magic or quick weight loss, have been luring gullible consumers for long, said an official in the information and broadcasting ministry which issued the “advisory”.

“The Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body, had sought the ministry’s intervention to ask the channels to stop promote such products, after which we have written to the broadcasters to pull off these ads,” the official said, adding the 40 accounted for a “significant” number.

According to industry estimates, the television home shopping industry is worth around Rs 2,000 crore. Several entertainment and news channels devote late-night and early-morning slots to such ads, which bring in additional revenues at such times marked by fewer big advertisers who prefer prime-time broadcasts.

The move could lead to revenue losses for the channels, though industry circles said the impact may not be deep as teleshopping accounted for less than 10 per cent of the total ad earnings.

A teleshopping ad costs Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 for 20 to 25 minutes, mostly between midnight and 2am, industry experts said. The prime-times rates are several times more.

Some of the ads that guarantee remedies for obesity, baldness, wrinkles, joint pains and other problems include those of “Fairpro”, “Ayurvedic Roopamrit Fairness Cream”, “Maha Dhan Lakshmi Yantra” and “Musli Power Xtra”.

“Most of the (40) ads the ministry has listed relate to products that claim to offer fairness, magical cure of ailments, black magic antidote, hair-growth, anti-addiction, weight loss, among others,” the ministry official said.

The ASCI, the advertisers’ body, said such ads not only violated the council’s internal code for authenticity but also provisions of the Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

The matter was placed before an inter-ministerial committee before the directions were sent out to the channels not to air such ads. The channels have been warned of action if they fail to comply with the “advisory”.