Industry lauds I&B Secretary Sanjay Jaju for swift action on SDC matter

Only the food and beverage and healthcare sectors now need to submit self-declaration certificates, and that too on an annual basis

Khushi Keswani
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Advertisers, self-declaration, mandate, supreme court, industry
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New Delhi: In a move welcomed by the advertising industry, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has limited the self-declaration mandate to companies in the food and beverage and healthcare sectors, requiring it only on an annual basis. This revision exempts all other categories of brands from the requirement.

The industry is praising MIB Secretary Sanjay Jaju for addressing its concerns regarding the SDC mandate just days before the July 9 hearing in front of the Supreme Court.

On July 9, the Ministry will submit an affidavit to the Supreme Court detailing the actions taken so far regarding the self-declaration certificate (SDC). The affidavit will also include the opportunity to present stakeholder reactions to the mandatory SDC directive and mechanism, along with their representations.

Rakesh Sharma, INS, lauded the proactive approach taken by the MIB Secretary. “I'm so happy that the Secretary MIB was very rational, very prudent, and very proactive in understanding the order of the Supreme Court," he said. 

This change comes after extensive discussions between industry bodies and the MIB. Previously, the self-declaration mandate applied to all advertising across sectors. This caused significant confusion and delays for advertisers. The process involved submitting declarations through designated portals for TV/radio ads (Broadcast Seva) and print/online ads (Press Council of India). 

The initial blanket requirement for self-declaration across all industries created a bureaucratic hurdle. Industry associations representing advertising agencies, media houses, and various product categories expressed concerns about the workload and potential for delays. Numerous meetings were held between industry representatives and the MIB to discuss these challenges. 

Sharma highlighted that a seemingly finer look at the details of the mandate has now resulted in proposing an addendum to the initial order, limiting the self-declaration requirement to just food and beverage and healthcare products.

The initial order for implementation of SDC starting June 18 was issued by MIB on June 7. “On receipt of the order, immediately on June 8, I had written to the MIB listing what kind of problems the industry is going to face,” he explained. 

“While the Secretary couldn't violate the court order for immediate implementation, he did agree to revisit the policy once the industry's challenges were better understood. It's a good decision because, on that day, the Supreme Court did not order any punitive action against those who did not implement it. This allowed for continued dialogue and ultimately led to the revised mandate,” said Sharma. 

Commenting on the initial conditions of the mandate, Shraddha Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Grapes, thought of a scenario where “creative inputs can be 100, but RTBs are going to be the same,” and the compulsory nature of SDC would have made it a lengthy process. But now, “from an advertiser perspective also, it's a good relief because at the end of the day, I don't have to do it on a regular basis, and it's only for the food and health, which from a consumer perspective, is a great start because that is what impacts the health in the long run.”

Harshil Karia, Founder, Schbang, expressed, “It’s a welcome move and will ensure that checks are done across the ecosystem where it matters most to consumer health and wellness, which is critical.”

Shrenik Gandhi, Founder, White Rivers Media, said, “Here was a panic amongst the public-listed and large brands we were handling for the last couple of weeks. But with this notification, it’s a sigh of relief. The new set of rules is logical and easy.” 

Recognising the industry's concerns, the MIB reviewed the self-declaration mandate. The revised policy streamlines the process by focusing on sectors with a higher potential risk of misleading claims: food and beverage and healthcare. 

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