Britain's ASA to Become Sole Ad Regulator for All Media

19 July 2004

Following a lengthy consultation period the UK's Advertising Standards Authority will from November assume responsibility for vetting complaints about advertisements across the media spectrum.

Since its inception in 1962 the ASA, a self-regulatory body, has been responsible for adjudicating complaints about ads in the print and outdoor sectors.

Similar oversight of TV and radio commercials was split between no fewer than four regulatory bodies -- the Radio Communications Agency, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Radio Authority and the Independent Television Commission -- all now subsumed into a single entity, Ofcom, which took power on 1 January this year.

But rather than set-up its own ad-vetting department and perpetuate the idiocy of multi-regulation for advertisements, Ofcom opted to delegate responsibility for the broadcast sector to the ASA.

It was first necessary to amend existing legislation, which was approved Friday by the House of Lords following a similar vote in the House of Commons earlier in the week.

As of 1 November 2004 responsibility will pass to the ASA, within whose structure there will be three units dedicated to broadcast ads ...

Advertising Standards Authority (Broadcast), to adjudicate on specific ad complaints.

Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, to monitor and review advertising standards overall.

Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance, to fund the regulator via a modest levy on all broadcast ads.

The move has delighted the ad industry which has for long lobbied in favour of a single advertising regulator. But there is markedly less enthusiasm among consumer groups, many of which have criticized the ASA for its softly-softly touch on a number of sensitive issues such as advertising to children.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff