ASCI to work with government to regulate ads

A new initiative by the Department of Consumer Affairs promises better regulation and more teeth to the ASCI and its orders against errant advertisers.


The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will soon become more than just a recommending body against errant advertising. The ASCI is getting more teeth for its work, as it has now become part of an inter-ministerial monitoring committee set up by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

As of now ASCI's orders are binding only on ads that are broadcast on television. This happened when ASCI's code of ethics was made a part of the Cable Television Network Rules, 2006. As a result, ads on TV have to abide by any rulings by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) banning or asking for modifications in the ads.

ASCI has become more and more active, with growing concern regarding the content of advertising as it becomes even more ubiquitous. Initially, ASCI restricted itself to erroneous or faulty claims in ads, but for a while now, ASCI has been taking a strong position on the content and messages in advertisement.

With the latest move, ASCI's powers will not directly increase, in that it will not get any new powers, however, the objective of the Department of Consumer Affairs is clear that ASCI can take a more proactive role in joining efforts with other ministries which may have Acts that are violated by any advertisements.

As an example, Moneylife recently reported that ASCI had ruled against Wockhardt Hospitals' ad in Mumbai Mirror. The ruling also cited the code of ethics of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the fact that under law medical practitioners cannot solicit clients. Under the new role that ASCI is playing with the government, ASCI would be able to intimate the Health Ministry and initiate action under the ministry.

ASCI says that in spite of the Council being a body geared towards self-regulation of ads (except TV ads), 100% of the orders that the CCC passes against TV ads, and around 80% of the orders passed against print advertisers are being complied with by the advertisers. With the growing reach of mass media, ASCI's role will only grow and evolve further in the coming years.


Indian employees will get 10.9% salary hike in 2015, says report

Although wage increases in India are among the highest in Asia, salaries would rise only 3.4% on an average next year if inflation is taken into account


Employees in India will see their salaries increase by an average of 10.9% in 2015, the third highest pay rise in Asia after Pakistan and Vietnam, says a report.


According to the latest Salary Trends survey by ECA International, the biggest pay rise in the region has been forecast in Pakistan, where companies are anticipating 12% rise on an average. For Indian employees, the average hike has been forecast at 10.9%.


Although wage increases in India are among the highest in Asia, salaries would rise only 3.4% on an average next year if inflation is taken into account.


“Nevertheless, with inflation expected to be slightly lower next year, wages will increase more in real terms in 2015 than they did this year when they rose just 2.7% above inflation,” ECA International regional director for Asia Lee Quane said.


In the Asian region, once inflation is taken into account, India falls to seventh place on the list, while Vietnam tops the chart and Pakistan slips to the third position.


While China would occupy the second place, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would be placed in fourth, fifth and sixth places, respectively, in real terms.


Employees in Japan would see the region’s lowest wage hikes next year and much of the 2.3% increase is likely to be eroded by inflation, it says.


Meanwhile, companies in mainland China are planning to award an average 8% salary increases again next year.


Even after inflation, Chinese staff will be among the best off within the region and globally they can expect to see a rise of 5.5%, says the report.


On an average, salaries in Asia are expected to increase by 7.2% in 2015 after factoring in inflation. Moreover, in terms of real wage increase (after taking inflation into account), it will average 2.7%, higher than the other regions surveyed.


According to the company predictions from around the globe, wages would rise 5.8% on an average in 2015, slightly up against this year’s 5.6% average.


This year’s survey was based on information collected from 340 multinational companies across 66 countries and regions. More than 100 companies provided data on their India-based staff.


Telecom Commission sends spectrum proposals back to TRAI

Telecom Commission decided to send back reference to TRAI as some clarification is required on some of the recommendations while few of them cannot be implemented in the present form


The Inter-ministerial panel on Telecom has decided to send back Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s recommendations on spectrum valuation and pricing for a review, saying that some of them can't be implemented in the present form.


"Telecom Commission decided to send back reference to TRAI as some clarification is required on some of the recommendations. Some recommendations also cannot be implemented and hence TC wants TRAI to reconsider them," an official from the Department of Telecom (DoT) said.


Last month, TRAI had given its recommendations on valuation and pricing of 1800 Mhz and 900 Mhz spectrum bands, being used for 2G services, for the next round of auction.


The regulator had suggested about 10% higher price for spectrum in 1800 Mhz over the final bid price that was received in the February auction.


The Commission has also has send back recommendation given for 800 Mhz (CDMA) spectrum band by TRAI in February for reconsidering some points. The regulator had suggested CDMA spectrum reserve price of Rs2,685 crore per megahertz for auction, which is around 50% higher than the previous pan-India base price.


The regulator has also recommended selling radiowaves in the 2100 Mhz band along with the proposed auction. Part of spectrum in 2100 Mhz band is held by Defence and DoT is in discussions to get some frequencies vacated for 3G mobile services in this band.


"Discussion is on with Defence. TC has decided to focus on spectrum for auction that is coming up for renewal," the official said.


Most of the spectrum which is proposed to be put up for sale is being used by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications across various parts of the country.


These companies will need to buy back radiowaves to continue their operations in areas where their licences are expiring in 2015-16.


The next round of spectrum auction is proposed to be held in February 2015 from which government is estimated to garner at least Rs9,355 crore.


TRAI has also recommended taking back 900 Mhz spectrum from state-run BSNL and most of CDMA spectrum from MTNL and BSNL. The suggestion has been turned down by DoT's internal committee saying DoT has no jurisdiction to take back spectrum from these companies under the licence conditions.


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