EC to okay political ads on radio

By Justin Thomas , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 18, 2008
The Election Commission has agreed to give radio channels the waiver required for airing political ads - the guidelines for this are expected in a few days

The & #BANNER1 & # Election Commission (EC) of India has confirmed that it has given a green signal to a proposal from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to allow political ads on radio.

Speaking to afaqs!, SK Rudola, secretary, media, Election Commission, says, "Since the Supreme Court has allowed a similar proposal for television, the radio medium should also be allowed the same."

The EC had stopped political ads four years ago because the All India Radio (AIR) Code and the Cable TV Networks Act prohibited such ads. The provision in the AIR Code states: "No advertisement shall be permitted, the objects whereof, are wholly or mainly of a religious or political nature; advertisements must not be directed towards any religious or political end." However the decision was challenged in the Supreme Court and TV channels got a waiver; radio continued under the blackout.

Recently, with the general elections looming close and assembly elections due in quite a few states, the radio industry set up a spirited campaign to get permission to air political ads. After hectic lobbying, the government said it would allow such ads if the EC gave its approval.

In a letter dated November 12, 2008, KS Wilfred, secretary, judicial, Election Commission, wrote to the secretary of the I&B ministry, stating the EC's willingness to approve the proposal and asking if there was a need to change the AIR Code, especially with regard to commercial advertising. Rudola says the EC is yet to get a reply to its query.

Once the reply is received, the EC will consult and deliberate with its commissions in each state. Only after this process is completed will the EC set the guidelines for the directive, says Rudola.