Ofcom Approves Self-Regulation of UK Broadcast Ads

18 May 2004

Broadcast advertising in the UK will be policed by the ad industry under plans approved on Monday by communications regulator Ofcom.

The Advertising Standards Authority -- the self-regulatory body that oversees press and poster ads -- will have its remit expanded to include TV and radio commercials. Ofcom will implement the system in November, assuming it gains parliamentary approval.

Under the scheme, three agencies will be set up under the ASA: the Advertising Standards Authority (Broadcast) will deal with public complaints; the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice will monitor general advertising standards; and the Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance will fund the watchdogs via a levy on TV and radio commercials.

"The UK's advertising industry through the ASA has successfully regulated its own actions in the non-broadcast environment for over 40 years," declared Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter. "Extending that responsibility to create a one-stop shop for all advertising offers real benefits to consumers and advertisers alike."

The scheme was welcomed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, whose director general Hamish Pringle called it "far-sighted".

However, some consumer groups voiced dismay at the decision. "Ofcom is proposing to hand control of the advertising standards codes to the industry, in the midst of a major public debate about the rules governing advertising, especially of foods to children," declared Allan Williams, a senior policy adviser at the Consumers' Association.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff