The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory to the media about carrying ads from betting sites.
This follows advisories issued by the Ministry on 13 June 2022 and 3 October 2022.
The Ministry has strongly advised the media to refrain from carrying advertisements or promotional content on betting sites and platforms. The letter, which was signed by Kshitij Aggarwal, deputy director, digital media, MIB, has also urged the media to not depict these betting sites as news websites and prevent surrogate advertising for these sites.
While issuing the advisory, the Ministry had made mentioned the fact that betting and gambling is illegal and hence advertisements/promotion of such activities directly or indirectly on media falls foul of the various statutes, including under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press
Council Act 1978, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 etc.
The note also pointed out the ‘Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council’ which mentions that ‘newspapers should not publish an advertisement containing anything unlawful or illegal' and the newspapers and periodicals should scrutinise the advertisement inputs from ethical as well as legal angles.
According to the letter, the Ministry has been informed of recent instances where news publishers have published/printed advertisements/promotional content of betting sites/platforms which are violating the guidelines.
The Ministry has also noticed that some of the news publishers have carried advertisements of a betting platform in which the audience is being encouraged to watch a sports league on its platform, which prima facie appears to be a case of piracy of content and violating the Copyright Act, 1957.
The letter added that if publishers are found to be not adhering to the advisory, the Government would be constrained to take appropriate action.