Self-Regulation Scheme Hailed by UK Ad Bodies

29 October 2003

Advertising trade bodies have welcomed new proposals to allow the self-regulation of Britain's broadcast ads.

New communications regulator Ofcom has unveiled plans to extend the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority – the industry-run watchdog that oversees press and outdoor ads – so that it covers TV and radio advertising too.

At present, television commercials must be approved by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, while complaints are handled by the Independent Television Commission. Watching over radio ads, meanwhile, is the Radio Authority.

What is being proposed is a single self-regulatory body overseeing all advertising, with Ofcom retaining certain powers to deal with particularly tricky problems. A public consultation allowing interested parties to have their say will run until January 9.

ASA chairman Lord Borrie believes the proposals are a good idea. "At present consumers must negotiate a regulatory maze just to submit a complaint about misleading or offensive advertising," he declared. "As boundaries between technologies blur, confusion about 'who does what' will only increase."

ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) also welcomed Ofcom's plans. Director general Malcolm Earnshaw believes marketers will benefit from the scheme, which "should bring greater consistency in both code development and adjudications and would help reduce uncertainty for advertisers running single campaigns across a range of broadcast and non-broadcast media."

Similar sentiments were forthcoming from the Advertising Association, terrestrial television network ITV and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

However, there were dissenting voices from those who oppose self-regulation. Member of Parliament Debra Shipley – who is concerned at the advertising of unhealthy food and drink to children [WAMN: 28-Oct-03] – called the proposals "a huge step in the wrong direction."

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff