Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld a complaint against a press advertisement for Hindustan Times' business daily, Mint. The ad, which appeared in the November 12, 2007, issue of Mint, and the November 1-15 issue of The Brand Reporter magazine, touted Mint as the second most read business daily on the basis of internal reports as well as external surveys.
The ad made an appeal to advertisers, saying that Mint was the most viable option for them. It drew comparisons with other business dailies, including Business Standard, Hindu Business Line and The Financial Express. While Mint's readership figures were internal, HBL and FE's figures were from IRS 2007 Round 2, and BS' figures were from IRS 2006 Round 2.
According to the ASCI directive, the ad violates Chapter 1 of the ASCI code. The Consumer Complaints Cell (CCC) concluded that the claim, 'Mint - No. 2 business daily in Delhi and Mumbai', was not substantiated. To quote ASCI, "The ads were misleading by ambiguity and were unfair to competition, as it quoted different sources and dates of readership."
The ASCI has asked Mint to withdraw the adverts with immediate effect, and has given the publication time till February 15, 2008, to comply. However, Rajan Bhalla, publisher, Mint, asserts that Mint is yet to hear of the ASCI's decision, and will take a call after that. Bhalla points out that Mint stands by what it has said in its ad. "We have a base of 85,000 subscribers," he says. "There is absolutely no need for any controversy as we have put forth internally audited numbers as well as figures provided by a renowned research firm."