Telecom sector: all is not fair in ‘ad war’
LAHORE, Jan 1: The cut-throat competition in the telecom sector has led some of the (flourishing) companies to make a mockery of advertisements of one another, giving way to the unhealthy trend of ‘beguiling’ the prospective customers.
In the absence of any mechanism by the authorities concerned to check the practice, such operators turn a deaf ear to the so-called code of ethics, thus making it a free-for-all on advertisement front. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has the simple answer that “the issue does not fall in its ambit”.
“Although competition is a good thing and efforts to reach the audience through ‘tasteful’ advertisements is considered to be a healthy practice in every sector, the way some telecom operators have recently indulged in ‘unethical’ practice will hardly build a decent public image,” a cellular company official believes.
At least three operators are indulged in the practice and one of them in its latest ad has crossed all ethical boundaries to counter its competitor which is coming closer to it in terms of the number of subscribers.
“I want to register my complaint against a couple of cell phone companies for their unethical ads, but there is no one to turn to for the purpose,” says a student of the Punjab University’s Mass Communication department.
A couple of cellular companies are also accused of misleading people through ‘deceptive’ advertisements. Such campaigns offer different packages on cheap rates which also have hidden charges/taxes and customers come to know about them at the time of billing.
The PTA, which regulates the telecom sector, says it is “not empowered to regulate content of an advertisement. Our domain is focused on consumer protection from the perspective of tariffs where we endeavour to ensure that deceptive practices are curtailed,” an official of the authority told Dawn on Thursday.
Recently, he said, the PTA had forced two operators to mention 30-second billing in their ads and shortly the companies started mentioning the application of 33 per cent taxes in their ads appearing on print and electronic media.
“The phenomenon of ‘ad wars’ is not just limited to telecom business and the ethical considerations as a matter of professionalism must be followed by the advertisement production companies,” he added.