ASCI finds Airtel Digital's MPEG4 ads misleading

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 11, 2010
The decision comes after Tata Sky registered a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

Airtel Digital's communication has banked heavily on the features and technology that the service provider can offer, much like the other players in the fairly nascent category of DTH. However, the communication created for its MPEG 4 technology-enabled set-top boxes, seemed to have promised more than it could deliver.

One may recall the 'Titli' commercial, where Saif Ali Khan (brand ambassador) relocates his childhood love, because of the picture clarity available on Airtel DTH, due to MPEG 4 technology. A sequel to this commercial was also released.

& #BANNER1 & #Tata Sky, the competing brand and a relatively older player in the category, registered a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), stating that these two ads by the DTH player were misleading.

Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer, Tata Sky tells afaqs! that since the claims made by Airtel in the said commercial aren't true, it (Tata Sky) filed the complaint with the advertising body.

MPEG 4 is a compression technology, which allows compressing a greater number of channels within a given bandwidth. It is claimed that the technology has no direct effect on the picture quality. However, the ads by Airtel DTH have made such a claim.

Tata Sky filed a complaint in this regard with ASCI in the beginning of December 2009. The complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC), which also viewed the TVCs in question.

After mulling over the situation, the CCC has upheld the complaint registered by Tata Sky, since the advertisement breaches chapter 1.4 of the ASCI code. To state the code: Advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions. Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentation which directly or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser or about any other product or advertiser.

The ads have been found to be misleading the viewer into believing that Airtel Digital TV has superior picture quality, because of MPEG 4 or DVBS2.

afaqs! tried to reach Airtel Digital on this matter, but the DTH provider was unavailable for comment.