The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Thursday issued a fresh advisory for online advertisement intermediaries, media entities and media platforms to refrain from carrying ads or promotional content of betting platforms.
In its advisory, the Ministry took “strong exceptions” of recent instances of mainstream English and Hindi newspapers for carrying advertisements and promotional content of betting websites. It pointed to instances of ads of players such as Betwayscores, 1XBET, Lotus365, fairplay, Panther777 News and Khiladi.com being published in newspapers.
‘For all media’
The Ministry said that the advisory is for all media formats including newspapers, television channels, and online news publishers.
It stressed that betting and gambling is illegal in India and hence having ads or promotional content directly or indirectly on any media platform falls foul of the various statutes including the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, among others.
The Ministry 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.”
‘Scrutinise before publishing’
While emphasising 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 mentions that “newspapers should not publish an advertisement containing anything which is unlawful or illegal.”
“The newspapers and periodicals should scrutinise 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 with much larger public responsibility,” the advisory added.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had earlier issued advisories in the months of June and October last year.