British TV Regulator Publishes New Ad Standards Code

30 August 2002

The Independent Television Commission, Britain’s commercial broadcasting regulator, will on Monday introduce a revised Advertising Standards Code.

Though wordier than the existing code, last altered in 1998, the revised rules are intended to be easier to use.

There are few major changes, though a section providing guidelines on advertising and the bullying of children has been introduced after the outcry over a controversial campaign for soft drink Tango.

Also, ads for hair-loss clinics and pregnancy tests will be permitted (so long as they meet general rules for health commercials), but restrictions on the advertising of gambling remain. It will be the job of nascent regulator the Gambling Commission to draw up an ad code for that industry.

The new regulations follow consultation with broadcasters, advertisers and other interested parties. “Our aim has been to seek views on the current rules and to incorporate best practice and recent developments into the code,” commented Sarah Thane, the ITC’s director of programmes and advertising.

“The basic policies remain very much as they were and as our research indicates viewers want them to be, but we have sought to put them into a more user-friendly format.”

Broadcasters are required to ensure ads do not breach the ITC’s guidelines, and the major TV channels – such as the ITV companies and Channel 4 – use the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre to vet commercials.

However, an increasing number of smaller satellite channels are vetting ads themselves, without recourse to the BACC – one of the regulator’s chief motivations in revising the code and making its guidelines clearer.

Details of the new rules can be found on the ITC’s website at

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