UK Advertising Regulation: One Size Fits All

02 November 2004

In days of yore - before the Blair administration introduced its Communications Bill to a grateful nation in 2003 - there were no fewer than five separate bodies with their fingers happily stuck in the UK's advertising regulation pie.

The Independent Television Commission, the Radio Authority, the Radio Communications Agency and the Broadcasting Standards Commission - all broadcast-related state agencies - plus the voluntary, ad industry-funded Advertising Standards Authority which focused on non-broadcast media.

Now there are just two. Government supra-regulator Ofcom and the ASA.

And as of yesterday, November 1, the former delegated its broadcast ad oversight duties to the latter - to the relief not only of the industry at large but also of the Great British Public, which at least now knows to whom it can complain when its sensibilities are outraged by practitioners of the ad trade.

The GBP can now cavil not only by such time-honoured methods as mail and telephone but also online via the ASA's website. And to help the body cope with the expected gush of gripes (24,000 predicted over the next twelve months), it has moved into new offices in central London and added four extra members to its council.

Says ASA director general Christopher Graham: "More than 5,000 people have approached the ASA already this year wanting to object to a TV or radio commercial. Up until now we've had to turn them away. Today's new start helps straighten out the regulatory maze and that's good news for consumers and advertising too."

The latest recruits to the ASA Council are Nigel Walmsley, who chairs the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board; consultant haematologist Dr Chitra Bharucha; Alison Goodman, ceo of the AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust; and head teacher Neil Watts.

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