London, Feb 20: A prominent Asian television channel has been rapped by Britain's advertising watchdog for airing an advertisement about a Hindu religious pendant on the ground that it encouraged 'occultism'.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has directed the Leicester-based MATV channel not to show the advertisement of a 'Ganesh Rudraksh' pendant again in its present form.
The advertisement, aired on the channel, depicted two women and the presenter claiming that bad omen can be averted by wearing the pendant.
The presenter claimed that there was scientific evidence to prove it. However, ASA staff who monitored the advertisement challenged the claims made by the presenter and asked whether evidence existed to substantiate the testimonials.
The ASA staff also challenged the advertisement on the ground that it exploited the superstitious and the vulnerable. In its ruling, the ASA said that the advertisement breached broadcast TV advertising rules.
"We considered that the claim anybody who wears Ganesh Rudraksh on their body, cannot be affected by bad omen exploited the superstitious. We concluded that the unsubstantiated claims and testimonies exploited vulnerable viewers," the ASA said in its ruling.
"In the absence of clinically-controlled trials to prove the efficacy of the product, we considered that the claims were misleading," it added. In its defence, MATV stated that Rudraksh was a natural bead that grew only in parts of the Himalayan region of India and Nepal.
It added that it was 'very sacred' to wear Rudraksh, comparable to Christians wearing a cross. The channel maintained that, just as it was impossible to prove that a cross would ward off evil, it was similarly impossible for them to give a scientific proof about Rudraksh.
MATV said Hindus believed that wearing Rudraksh was very sacred and would ward off many ill effects to the human body. The ASA, however, said that the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code prohibited advertising for products or services within the recognised character of the occult, psychic practices and exorcism.
"We considered that the ad promoted a good luck charm; we concluded that the ad was for an unacceptable category," it said.