Self-regulation and Television Advertising: A Replication and Extension

Avery M. Abernethy
Auburn University
Jan LeBlanc Wicks
University of Arkansas

There are both state and federal laws regulating the advertising of specific products (such as tobacco) and specific creative executions (such as false, misleading, or defamatory claims). However, self-regulation has been identified as the most efficient tool for curbing excesses and illegality in advertising (Zanot, 1985). Owners and managers of media vehicles have great power to determine the type of advertising they carry. They can review each advertising submission and determine if it is acceptable for their audience. If the submission is deemed unacceptable, the advertisement can be rejected for broadcast. This review process (often referred to as the ‘clearance process’) has the potential to provide considerable consumer protection from false, misleading, or, inappropriate advertising (Rotfeld, Abernethy, and Parsons, 1990). Media owners and managers also have direct contact with all of the advertising they run, before it is run. In contrast, government regulators only see problem advertisements after they have appeared in public and potentially caused consumer harm.