Industry Positions

Advertising on Illegal Content


On the requisition of certain members, Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS) initiated a dialogue on Advertising on Cable Networks that air channels which do not have landing rights in Pakistan and/or show pirated content illegally on their in-house channels.
The subject was discussed at length in the 10th AGM after which a special session was held especially on this matter on January 22, 2008 with all the members of the Society.

The prime issue under consideration was that this practice not only violates the government laws but also the Intellectual Property Right laws that can hold the cable networks and the advertisers responsible for supporting and abetting this act on moral and ethical grounds.

The Principle

After a lot of deliberations within the Standing Committee and the Council; and with a number of advertisers; and seeking legal guidance, the PAS Council and the Standing Committee on the Code of Advertising Practice principally agreed that advertising on illegal channels (such as Star TV) or on in-house channels that air illegal content result in:

  1. Loss of valuable ad spend for advertisers especially due to illegal ad pasting

  2. Violation of the vision of the Society that holds ethical practice as one of its basic tenet

  3. Indirectly bringing disrepute to the business of advertising and the advertisers that are seen to encourage an act that violates many laws

Industry Position

Realizing the above principle in view of the vision of the Society that clearly stands to encourage and promote ethical practices in advertising, PAS being an industry representative body strongly suggests its members to refrain from:

  1. Advertising on channels that do not have landing/distribution rights to be aired in Pakistan as advertising or branding on such channels in any form is considered unethical and unlawful

  2. Advertisers shall not allow any CO to paste their ads over legally procured ads on any channel. Ad pasting is outright violation of the law and all ethical standards

  3. Advertising in any form, during content that violate the copy right laws of Pakistan. This is especially applicable for Cable In-House Channels that air pirated Indian/English movies which is seen as an obvious and clear violation of law unless they have airing rights. Here, the following form of advertising is seen to encourage distribution of illegal content

    1. Complete branding of channels that air illegal content

    2. Advertisements during the pirated content as their mid-break commercials

    3. Advertisement in the form of time-checks during the content

    4. Advertising just before the beginning of pirated content

    5. Branding of programming/voting slides

    6. Statements like “This movie/programme is brought to you by…” or “Presented by…”

With this, realizing the fact that the government regulatory authority allows the advertisers to advertise on Cable In-house channels and PAS advocating the rights of advertisers to communicate freely but responsibly, advertising only in the following form is recommended:

  1. Advertising only during legal content. Here, the advertiser should ask for an evidentiary
    proof from the Cable Operator (CO) for their record;

  2. Advertising on TV/Cable in-house channels by running self-owned content that is
    either generated in-house or acquired through written permission from the owner of the content and is given to CO for airing. Advertising within this content in the form of commercial break is also permitted.

  3. The self-owned content that can be a corporate documentary, an event coverage or a branded programme cannot be less than for a duration of 15mins* to be qualified as a content and be differentiated from an advertisement; also this content can only be aired in between programmes and not as commercial breaks within a pirated movie/programme;

  4. Branded songs are allowed to be aired. However, there can be no kind of commercial message before or after such a song except for a slide that can say “this song is brought to you by…”. Also, applying the same qualification for their placement, such songs cannot be placed as commercial breaks within a pirated content or programme.

The allowance of certain provision should be seen as to encourage the industry to move towards ethical practices and establish standards.

Understanding the principle behind the decision, members are requested to implement this position in spirit and in letter along with their media buying and ad agencies for the benefit of the industry in the long run.

Our message to the cable networks and TV channels should be to air only legal software and they have our full support in their endeavor to acquire the airing rights for legal software.

*Note: 15 minute duration is non-inclusive of advertising time.

Implementation Date

PAS members are required to implement this decision from August 15, 2008.
However, members are also advised to honour all the pending contracts and to enter into new contracts only on the above terms and conditions.

Taking a lead to implement this decision, PAS Council Member Companies have already implemented the above from 1st of August 2008 barring contractual commitments.