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HC Modifies Interim Order Asking Airtel To Change Disclaimer Of Its IPL Commercials

The Delhi High Court today modified its single judge’s interim orders asking Bharti Airtel to make changes to its advertisements offering “live and free access” to IPL coverage by carrying a disclaimer of a larger font size in a prominent and visible place.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar while passing the order also questioned the maintainability of the suit filed by Reliance JIO (RJIO) which alleged that Airtel’s advertisement was “deceptive and misleading”.

“Prima facie we have strong reservations about the maintainability of the plea,” the court said while setting aside the second interim order passed by the single judge on May 2.

 The single judge in his May 2 order had asked Airtel to use font of 12 pixels in print media and that too in a prominent and visible place and not at the bottom.

The high court, however, allowed the first interim order of April 13 to continue to operate.

In the April 13 order, the single judge had asked Airtel to carry a disclaimer in bold stating that under its ‘live and free access offer’ only subscription to video streaming platform Hotstar would be free and data charges according to the subscriber’s plan would apply.

During the arguments, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for RJIO, said that both orders were passed with the consent of the two sides and thus, an appeal could not have been moved against the same.

Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Airtel, contended that while his client was agreeable to carrying a disclaimer of font size 12 pixels instead of the earlier 10 pixels, it was not in agreement with the additional directions that the same has to be carried in a “prominent and visible place”.

The May 2 order had said, “So far as the video clips/television advertisements are concerned the disclaimer should start running from the word the girl says ‘Seasonal Pass————-‘ and it should be displayed in sync with the voice over. The disclaimer in bill boards and hoardings be also at prominent place.”

During the hearing of the appeal by Airtel, the bench said it has “grave doubts” about maintainability of the suit by the RJIO.

The RJIO, in its suit, had claimed that the advertisements “falsely proclaim” that Airtel was offering “live and free” access to T20 cricket coverage and also “falsely represent that a subscriber need only obtain a 4G sim from the defendant company and download the Airtel TV app to obtain a virtual season pass, that is live and free access to T20 coverage”.

– Money Control

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