ISLAMABAD – Competitive Commission of Pakistan (CCP) could take action against Telenor Pakistan, the second largest telecom operator in the country, reported by Telecom Recorder, a Pakistani telecom blog on Monday.
Telecom giant may face penalty or show-cause notice for its deceptive and misleading advertisement/branding campaign of 4G LTE—the service it does not offer in the country.
Telenor different hoardings were seen in Blue Area and in Lahore Airport portraying misleading information to customers about its service “We are 4G LTE.”
According to CCP, the Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010 explains that “deceptive marketing practices and disseminating misleading and false information to the consumers” is A Violation of LAW.
CCP earlier has taken various actions against many companies for even branding their products with false claims and content.
Recently, the commission took action against Sunland Foods for claiming that their juice was 100 % pure fruit juice.
Upon checking the ingredients at the back of the bottle, it was revealed that the juice contained Preservatives E202, E211 and E224 and Color E 160 therefore contradicting the claim of “100% pure juice”.
CCP’s action led Sunland Food not only to remove the line “100% pure juice” from their billboards and televised adverts but company committed that the packaging would be revised.
Similarly, the authority took action against a multinational firm Reckitt and Benckiser for misleading advertising content of its brand Veet stating that “at “9/10 women prefer Veet”, allegedly without having a reasonable basis.”
The advertisements were being telecast and published in electronic and print media but it was stopped after action of CCP.
Even, Shangrila one of the leading food brands in Pakistan also faced the bell of CCP action for prima facie violation of Section 10 of Competition Act that deals with deceptive marketing practices. The action was taken upon the request of National Foods and disposed of later after the written apology of the Shangrila.
Telenor Pakistan OR Telenor Group, A Counter Argument
The argument is that Telenor’s advertisement is for its Group does not carry a weight for justification because we know the Telenor Group from its subsidiary Telenor Pakistan.
Will Telenor Group give advertisement of Easypaisa branchless banking service in Thailand where its subsidiary is operating? It sounds non-sense. And if it is reported that a company decided to change the content of the billboard, it has committed mistake.
Another Telecom blog in Pakistan, ProPakistani also raised the similer objection on the argument as Aamir Attaa, owner of the blog stated in his peace that Zong (Subsidiary of China Mobile, world’s leading cellular operator in Pakistan) can’t claim to be a 4G network even if its parent group is offering the same in China, especially when Zong’s logo is exactly the same as of China Mobile’s logo in China. That would be a trap to mislead the customers in Pakistan.
If CCP is vigilant, it could ask Telenor to explain the content of its billboards/ hoardings which could be seen in Islamabad Blue Area and Lahore Airport. It is due to the fact that commission is very active against cellular phone companies as it issued earlier show-cause notices to them.
CCP Guidelines for Telecom Operators
CCP Guidelines issued specifically for telecom operators said.
False information” can be said to include oral or written statements or representations that are (a) contrary to truth or fact and not in accordance with the reality or actuality; (b) usually implies either conscious wrong or culpable negligence; (c) has a stricter and stringer connotation and (d) is not readily open to interpretation.
On the other hand “misleading information” has been held by the Commission to essentially include oral or written statements or representations that are (a) capable of giving a wrong impression or idea; (b) likely to lead to error of conduct, thought or judgment; (c) tends to misinform or misguide owing to vagueness or any omission; (d) may or may not be deliberate or conscious and (e) in contrast to false information, it has less onerous connotation and is some what open to interpretation as the circumstances and conduct of a party may be treated as relevant to a certain extent.
CCP Issues Show-Cause Notices to Tellcos on TVCs
The commission had taken action against Warid Telecom and Ufone on the account of deceptive marketing practices asking the companies for explaining the content of their television advertisements making tall claims.
CCP issued a show-cause notice to Ufone in January 2009 asking the company to explain the TVC of Uwon package offers that states “the cheapest calling rates not only in Pakistan, not only in Asia but in the world.”
It issued a show cause notice to M/s Warid Telecom (Pvt.) Limited in August 2011 for deceptive marketing practices asking to explain the content of its advertisement ‘Minute’ Package, in which, it has been publicized that, ‘Calls can be made to any network from ‘Warid Minute Package’ in Rs. 1.20/min’.
Now in the case of Telenor Pakistan, the BTL advertisement on hoarding were deemed as controversial and ambiguous which needs clarification to the media and CCP.
Not Telenor alone, but all operators have done or preparing to upgrade their networks for next generation technology but it does not mean that you can advertise this before getting licence and auction of licence even.