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Supreme Court orders MIB to submit SDC recommendations Within 3 weeks

The Supreme Court has directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to submit an affidavit within three weeks, detailing recommendations on the ‘self-declaration certificate’ (SDC) mechanism for advertisements. The directive came from a bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Sandeep Mehta on July 9, 2024.

The court was hearing intervention applications filed by various industry associations, including the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Association of Radio Operators.

Justice Kohli emphasised the need for continued dialogue between the ministry and stakeholders. She stated, “The intention is not to cause any harm to anybody. The intention is only to focus on particular sectors and particular aspects. So whatever is extraneous and somehow is being interpreted otherwise shall be clarified. But we must have a clarity on this. …request you to convene a meeting so that all the stakeholders and the senior most officers of your department can have a brainstorming.”

The court directed the MIB to continue conducting brainstorming sessions with stakeholders to develop an implementable mechanism. Justice Kohli added, “The industry is should not suffer in any manner; the Ministry is directed to continue the churning of ideas and have further meetings in this direction and file an affidavit making its recommendations within three weeks.”

Highlighting the court’s intention, Justice Kohli noted, “The idea is not to burden anybody, but to ensure that there is a regime and that it is operational and put in place in a proper manner. Whatever has to be shortened and simplified should be done.”

During the hearing, it was suggested that instead of two separate portals for uploading SDCs, one should be made mandatory. The court also acknowledged the MIB’s efforts in addressing industry concerns stating, “The MIB has held high-level meetings with with various stakeholders with the idea of resolving the issues and the difficulties expressed by them, such meetings shall be taken further when and all the interveners and others who are deemed appropriate, to streamline the issues and point out the difficulties being faced.”

The court directive follows the MIB’s recent advisory on July 4, which modified its earlier mandate effective from June 18. The new advisory restricted the ‘self-declaration certificate’ requirement to an annual upload for Food and Health products and services only as opposed to the earlier requirement of SDCs for every ad across TV, print, radio and digital media.

The July 4 advisory came after a meeting on June 25 between the Ministry and industry stakeholders, including big tech platforms, broadcasters, ISA and the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA). During this meeting, the Ministry acknowledged suggestions to limit the mandate to food and health sectors and discussed the need for ‘one time certification’.

The Supreme Court has now listed the matter for further hearing on July 30, 2024. In the interim, the MIB advisory remains in force. BW Marketing

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