Its been brewing for some time….
Pakistan’s electronic media watch dog has asked TV channels and FM radio stations in the country to immediately stop airing condom ads.
Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) claims the decision to ban contraception, birth control and other family planning device ads comes after it has been flooded with complaints from general public on “undesired” commercials.
“General public are very much concerned on the exposure of such products to innocent children, which get inquisitive on the features/ use of such products (sic),” the notice dated 26 May says.
It also warns of legal action in case of non compliance.
Sex and family planning are considered a taboo in Pakistan, where a third of its population does not have access to any forms of contraception.
PEMRA has been frowning on condom ads for some time now.
It cracked the whip on ‘Josh’, a leading condom brand last September citing that it found its commercial down right “immoral” and not conforming to religious norms.
‘Josh’ has earlier been hit by another ban, after it aired a humorous, but suggestive ad featuring a top model, two years ago.
Well if you thought the prudish Pakistani government is the only one poking its nose between the sheets, you are mistaken.
Conservative attitudes to sex and birth control are entrenched in most countries of South Asia, including Big Daddy India.
There were reports last year that India’s Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry was also mulling to clamp down on condom ads on TV, during day time.
The arguments of an unnamed official quoted in the news reports are more or less on the same lines of PEMRA.
I&B officials also found refuge in the “flood of complaints” from viewers, including politicians.
A letter from a Nagpur based lawyer was cited by the officials to highlight the growing alarm about “how condom ads are spoiling kids.”
“While about twenty five years ago, when first such ads started getting broadcast on TV – condoms were depicted as a contraceptive method and a way of family planning, present-day ads portray them as pleasure-enhancers and therefore have given rise to free sex (sic),” the lawyer’s letter was cited in a report by the Kolkata based Telegraph daily last October.
The officials said a committee will explore whether the condom ads should restricted for telecast between 11 pm and 5 am.
This school of thought stems from the fact that children will dutifully be tucked in their beds by 9 pm and the TV stations can safely roll out the ads two hours later.
The two hour margin is perhaps to take into account the insomniac kids. The officialdom, its seems has not woken up to Internet.
Last September, Communist Party of India (CPI) national secretary Atul Anjan had stirred a controversy with his remarks on Manforce condom ad featuring Sunny Leone. “If such condom ads are shown on the country’s television sets and in newspapers, then the number of rape incidents will increase.”
The former adult film star retorted that politicians like Anjan should not waste his time on her. “Sad when people of of power waste their time and energy on me, instead of focusing on helping those in need !!!!!”
Communicators often have a tough time creating a commercial for condoms. While some push the boundaries in the narrative, most advertising agencies are clueless about how to position the brand. Do they present it as a device that aids pleasure or as a “medium of necessity” that offers protection?